Grey’s Anatomy‘s much-hyped music event was a clear reminder of why I hate Grey’s Anatomy. It was completely over-the-top, unnecessary, and just a contrived ratings ploy. The episode made Glee look like Masterpiece Theater.
Television shows have incorporated musical numbers or tackled musical episodes before. Some – Scrubs, Buffy, Glee,How I Met Your Mother – have proven how this format can be successful. Others (7th Heaven) were a clear sign that the show had really, really jumped the shark. Grey’s Anatomy falls somewhere in the middle, where if it wasn’t for the saving presence of Ramirez throughout the episode.
The “music event” (we sure as hell can’t call it a musical) was framed as Callie’s out-of-body experience as she suffered from traumatic injuries following a car crash. As Callie struggles to comprehend the extent of her trauma, her mind goes elsewhere and she begins to sing. She witnesses her colleagues meagerly bust out some tunes. Songs that have become synonymous with Grey’s over the years were performed by the cast to limited success. Not even giving Callie (played by Tony Award winning actress Sara Ramirez) most of the solos couldn’t save the episode from itself.
I can’t even begin to really describe how certain songs made me feel like I was in worse shock than the character suffering from massive head trauma, internal bleeding, and preterm labor. “Running on Sunshine,” for instance, split the episode with a weird sex montage. Because you know that’s what all the other characters are doing when their dear friend Callie is dying. It trivialized what was happening to a beloved character. (I could also have done without Franco from Rescue Me and that dude who was married to Jennifer Garner singing.) The episode ended with every cast member belting out a few lines of “How to Save a Life”. (So shocking.) I imagine this was intended to be the ensemble show stopper. But between the singing, the dialogue and all the action going around, it was mostly just a confusing mess of noise and made the episode’s actual plot hard to follow.
It is really a shame that Grey’s Anatomy producer Shondra Rhimes felt that this musical episode was necessary. Now in its seventh season, Grey’s has been reinvigorated (although it is telling that it took a shooting rampage to get there). In many ways, the show feels like early Grey’s Anatomy, when the soap opera dramatics didn’t cause constant eye-rolling. Instead, last night’s episode encompasses exactly why Grey’s melodramatic schtick has gotten old. Is there it really necessary every patient to a landmark medical case? Are there no other medical personnel in the entire hospital than these surgeons? And do these doctors ever date anyone outside of the hospital? The constant recycling of these aspects makes Grey’s Anatomy an insult to every great medical drama that has preceded it.
What gets me the most is that I could have easily suspended my disbelief for one musical number – Ramirez’s powerful rendition of “The Story“. I’ve done it before for other shows. “Wild World,” performed in the series 1 finale of Skins, proves that any television show can incorporate an impromptu musical number that is moving and memorable without trivializing anything.
In Grey’s Anatomy attempt to do what it always does – something that is shocking, great and never been done before – it just made a mess of itself. Maybe next time Grey’s should try doing the opposite – simplicity with a slight touch of melodrama – and leave the bad musical numbers to kids on Glee.