While “Grey’s Anatomy” is a hit medical TV show that follows the the lives and complicated relationship drama of some the world’s best surgeons, it’s more than that. It’s a show that subtly addresses many current topics that are plaguing society today. Shonda Rhimes, the show’s executive producer, perfectly addresses these topics in the best way possible. She does it in a way that some viewers may not even realize she’s actually doing it. Rhimes really makes her viewers think when they watch the show every Thursday night.
The show has been running for fourteen seasons so far. It’s already had one spinoff with another one coming down the road. In the past, the show has brought to life many societal topics like illegal immigrants, equal treatment of women in the workplace, mental illness, and race relations. For example, Izzie, who has since left the show, treated an illegal immigrant right outside the hospital in episode two of the pilot season. It has been addressed some in the past, but domestic violence has just recently become one of the major storylines for the show. Jo Wilson, one of the surgical residents, was married to a man, Dr. Paul Stadler, who had beaten her. She had moved away and changes her name so that he could not find her. However, in an episode that aired back on January 18, Paul shows up wanting to get a divorce so that he could marry another woman, Jenny. Jenny is unaware that Jo had been assaulted by Paul. Jo, with the help of Meredith Grey, secretly informs Jenny of what Paul did to her. Jenny only just realizes that Paul was also abusing her. However, Paul had been blaming Jenny for it and Jenny just believes him without realizing the extent of the situation. Paul is confronted in the next episode after he is the victim of a car crash. After being confronted, he tries to assault Jenny once again and hits his head. Paul is left brain-dead and since Jo is still technically married to Paul, Jo has to decide what to do with Paul. She decides to bring good to the situation by donating his organs to people in need. The title of the winter premiere that expressed this storyline is “1-800-799-7233,” which is the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
While Jo and Jenny are dealing with Paul, other doctors are dealing with a patient that was a victim of police brutality. This was another issue that “Grey’s Anatomy” addresses in a meaningful way. A young, African-American boy is brought into the hospital because he was shot. Apparently, a policeman thought that he was breaking into a house. He shot the boy not knowing that the boy was climbing through his own bedroom window because he lost his house key. The doctors are stunned at what has happened and Dr. Jackson Avery takes it to heart because he, himself, was a victim of police brutality as child. Anyway, the doctors try to save the boy’s life but are unsuccessful in their attempt. Chief of Surgery, Miranda Bailey, and her husband, Ben, who are both African-American realize that they need to talk to their son about what he should do if he ends up in a similar situation. Viewers are left to think about this very sensitive issue.
All in all, “Grey’s Anatomy” does a great job of presenting real-life issues in a fictional way that almost seems real. They’re telling you what stance you should take on a topic, but they are giving you a scenario that you can understand. It makes you critically think about the topic and what you would do if you were in the character’s’ shoes.