One mom tries to walk away . . . and can't.
Meredith Hoffa: Most breakups are muddy and complicated and full of codependency madness -- and my breakup with Grey's Anatomy has been no exception. Whenever I think I've walked away from the show for good, it somehow worms its way back into my life -- which wouldn't be a problem if watching it didn't make me feel so entirely lame.
There was a time when our relationship had been great. I'd been devoted. I really thought the show was good. The storylines compelled me, soapy trysts and medical dramas and all. Even little character quirks -- like George's stammering and Denny Duquette's boyish smirk -- disarmed me. Plus, I enjoyed being pleasantly lulled each week by the rainy Seattle landscape, since this let me vicariously experience coziness despite the fact that I live in L.A., where it's depressingly sunny all the time. Whenever my mom would scoff at the show ("As if doctors have time for all that sex in supply closets. Good grief!"), I'd spring to its defense. And (here comes a memory that I am unable to recall without blushing over my cringe-tastic presumptuousness), during season two, my writing partner and I called up our manager and declared "officially" that we'd like to join the Grey's writing staff. Anyway, all this is just to say that there was a time when I thought the show was truly something special.
But by season four, the magic started fading. I knew something was awry, but for awhile didn't want to admit it -- kind of like that period in college when I was dating this guy who was nice to look at and good at sex, yet would say things like "escape goat" and I'd constantly have to pretend it wasn't happening. With Grey's, the very things I'd once considered cool were now making my skin crawl: the rhythm of the vaguely condescending-sounding opening voice-over, the I'm-a-nervous-woman-hence-I'm-babbling thing, the "unexpected" soft side of Miranda Bailey (her bark is worse than her bite!), Meredith and Christina talking past each other, the insanely over-the-top nutjob medical catastrophes. Still, there were aspects of the show that continued to reel me in: I liked the way Meredith's character emerged from her sourpuss cocoon, I liked the way Karev was kind of a dick, I liked watching the gang eat lunch. Man, how I loved watching them eat lunch! I could watch that for hours. That cafeteria just seems so bright and fun and brimming with great food options. But I digress. Point is: I was still watching, but it was a bad situation. By the end of each episode, I'd inevitably be weeping over some gut-wrenching storyline and feeling simultaneously exhausted, angry at having been emotionally manipulated, and deeply regretful that I was curled up on the couch emptying out my insides -- right on Shonda Rhimes' cue -- instead of spending the hour doing something actually productive, like catching up on world news, say, or making pesto.
SO, at the end of last season, I decided it was time to say goodbye to Grey's. I felt an empowering sense of closure as I watched the season finale. Is Izzy dead? Is George dead? Will they be lovers in the afterlife? Might Denny join them there and harass them with his boyish smirk, a smirk that is so obviously not disarming at all but actually creepy and infuriating? Who cares! I was moving on. It was deeply liberating.
Cut to: the present day. Season six is upon us, and the thing is ... I've been spending an immense amount of time in front of the TV whilst breastfeeding, and this is how I noticed the latest Grey's episodes sitting there on my TiVo, just hanging out all shiny and new in a neat little sub-folder. I told myself I'd just watch the season premiere; I deserved to find out what happened to Izzy and George, I reasoned. But then I had to watch the next episode, too, to find out which residents' jobs were spared in the chief's budget cuts ...
And so forth.
It's a very slippery slope, I found.
So. I'm back. That's right, I watch Grey's Anatomy. Again. Am I proud? No. I am not proud. But I'm happy. Or maybe not happy, exactly, but comfortable. Perfectly, contentedly, cozily comfortable in my discomfort.
|Meredith Hoffa's first-person writing has appeared in The New York Times, Boston Globe Magazine, Fit Pregnancy, Business Traveler, and the new anthology, "Rejected" (Villard/Random House, 2009). She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.|