I don’t watch a lot of television. In fact, most of my television consumption these days is completely over the internet. However, I have five shows that I’ve deemed essential: House, Community, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Mad Men. Private Practice is a residual holdover because of my love for Grey’s. I watch Grey’s regularly and at the conclusion of Season 6, Writer/Producer Shonda Rhimes took the show to a devastating turn. In last year’s double episode season finale, Rhimes unleashes a gunman on the staff of fictional Seattle Grace/Mercy West Hospital, opening with the shooting of one the key characters (Dr. Reid at point blank range in the head) leading to a day of mayhem and domestic terror.
Yes, it makes for great sensational drama, and while some of the extremes in the crisis and dialogue were a bit much, I can’t ignore that conversation that Rhimes and fellow Grey writers are facilitating about terrorism, trauma, gun violence, grief and recovery.
Clark: Five days ago when I bought this gun… Did you know you could buy a gun at a superstore?
I did not. In most states, one can acquire a firearm from a superstore like Wal-Mart, and wait five days for a license. A fact that I often take for granted living in the Republic of Brooklyn.
The 14 episodes between the conclusion of Season 6 through the mid point of Season 7 are deceptively complex. I’m fascinated that one of the most popular dramas on network television is exploring these themes. I had been watching Grey’s for so long, so familiar with the slow unfolding of the character’s personalities that I took the shooting personally. The writers researched gun ownership/control, and while it seems like gun rights and laws are political wedge issues, GA offers it’s viewers the opportunity to experience, if you will, through the lives of their characters the reality of gun ownership, regulation and use. They also present another face of terrorism that we take for granted.
The September 11th parallel is not lost on me. Some may scoff, but the show opens with a series of vignettes, a perfect normal, sunny day in Seattle, not unlike a perfect September day in New York, or perfect July day in London 2005. Katie Herzig’s sweet and haunting soundtrack juxtapose against the brutal images of another main character (McDreamy) shot in the chest at close range. Additionally, I think about April 19, 1995 in Oklahoma City. It was a beautiful day in New York City then. I can’t remember if it was a beautiful day April 20, 1999 when two teenage boys shot up their classmates outside Boulder, Colorado. I do remember it was a Tuesday. Continue reading