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A Critical Review of Grey’s Anatomy

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Grey’s Anatomy is an extremely popular medical drama that first appeared 2005 on American Broadcasting Company, better known as ABC. The television show is based around Meredith Grey, played by Ellen Pompeo, and her journey through internship, residency, and eventually her role as an attending in the surgery department of Seattle Grace Hospital. The show is not only about Grey, there are five other doctors who also begin as interns that the show concentrates on as well as attendings in all surgical specialties found in a hospital. Grey’s Anatomy is filled with lots of last-minute love rendezvous in on-call rooms throughout the hospital which leads to many issues that would never be seen in a real hospital. Many people argue that Grey’s Anatomy is not a good television show because in time, most of the main characters either die or leave. However, some individuals get so involved with the character’s love lives that they are terribly saddened when main characters die or leave the show. I believe Grey’s storyline is great and Shonda Rhimes, executive producer, does a fantastic job integrating the watcher into the character’s lives. Many people have differing opinions of the storyline of Grey’s, but it is evident throughout the show that the medical cases and doctor representations are overly dramatized. Although the well-liked television show Grey’s Anatomy has a great story line that is very intense at times, especially in the first three seasons, many medical cases and doctor portrayals are extremely inaccurate and do not depict what working in a real hospital is really like.

I initially began to watch Grey’s Anatomy because I am very interested in all things medical. I figured since I had only heard positive things about the show, it would at least show what working in a hospital is like. I was wrong for thinking it would always be medically consistent, but I ended up getting involved with the character’s lives and loving the storyline of the show. The first season of the show was extremely entertaining watching the interns adapt to the hospital life and watching Grey fall for her surgical attending and married man, Dr. Derek Shepard, played by Patrick Dempsey. Seth Freilich, a television show critic reviews the first season of Grey’s and its interesting storyline. Freilich states, “The medical plots are quickly getting totally ridiculous, and the relationship drama (particularly between the annoying Meredith and Dr. McDreamy) is totally drawn-out and cheesy”. He further goes on to talk about how even though the relationship drama is drawn out, there is something about the show that keeps him watching. Freilich finishes his review by asserting, “… I don’t mind any of its flaws and actively look forward to new episodes”. I agree with Freilich, even though some components are drawn out, I can watch it over and over again.

In the second season, intern Izzie Stephens becomes overly involved in her heart patient Denny Duquette’s life. Duquette’s heart is failing and he is in desperate need of a heart transplant; Izzie falls in love with Denny and spends much of her days at work in his room visiting, something that does not happen in a normal hospital setting. While Duquette’s surgeon goes to harvest a heart for the transplant, drama arises and it is possible the heart will never make it to him. Stephens ultimately cuts the LVAD wire, the only thing keeping Duquette from death. Stephens cutting the LVAD wire is a prime example of inaccurate medical portrayal in the show. Had a medical professional purposefully cut the patient’s life line in real life, they would most definitely lose their license to practice medicine and be imprisoned. There are also restrictions on medical professionals getting attached to their patients. Stephens and Duquette were considered to be “dating” while he was staying in the hospital. In real life, one would never be allowed to care for their partner while they were gravely ill. The ending of season two left all watchers excited to see what season three had in store. Debi Enker, television show critic for The Age, a newspaper in Australia believes Rhimes did a great job on season two’s ending. Enker states, “Rhimes’ big finish does exactly what it’s supposed to do: it leaves you wanting more”. Aside from the inaccuracy of the Stephen and Duquette drama, season two was most definitely very intense and left watchers ready for season three.

Season three did not have many major events take place, which made it a little vague and boring in my opinion. However, not every season can be perfect, and I do not believe this season took away from Grey’s Anatomy as a whole. At the beginning of season three, Stephens inherits a large amount of money from Duquette after his death. The relationship drama continues throughout this season and so does the bizarre medical cases. The most bizarre medical case in season three was a cancer patient who was taking herbal enhancements that caused her blood to become toxic. Once the surgeons opened the woman and were exposed to her blood, they all passed out. The doctors tried to wear oxygen masks to finish up the surgery, but they ran out. The group of surgeons then decided they needed to go into the operating room one at a time in twenty second increments while holding their breath. This is another great example of medical cases that are very unrealistic. In a real operating room there are other people such as scrub nurses, surgical technicians, and the anesthesia team. These people are not shown and if the patient went without someone from the anesthesia team for much time, he or she would most likely have many severe complications. There was a ferry boat crash that took place in this season as well and intern Alex Karev fell in love with the pregnant victim known as “Jane Doe, who suffered from amnesia. This is another example of the doctor’s getting involved in patient’s lives, something that is not acceptable in a real hospital. Dustin Rowles, a critic for Pajiba, an entertainment news source believes season three is the downfall of Grey’s Anatomy. He states “The high is gone, but you keep watching because you really want to see what rock bottom looks like. I can see it in the not too far distance: It’s shale”. With this season, I can see where Rowles is coming from; however, I do not agree. Every television series has seasons that are not as interesting as the others, but Grey’s is far from a downfall.

As mentioned earlier, Grey’s Anatomy has several medical inaccuracies and inaccurate doctor portrayals throughout the whole television series. An article published to The DO, a medical news site, compares Grey’s Anatomy to real life residency in a hospital. Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine, Amanda Kirzner, describes her experience in medical school to the experiences portrayed in Grey’s. While Kirzner was premed, she claims she, “watched the lives of surgical residents and physicians with great interest”. She knew a lot of the cases and doctor portrayals were dramatized, but when she became a general surgery resident she states, “these discrepancies became even more obvious to me”. Kirzner believes the show causes medical students to be extremely shocked when they make their rotation through surgery and see how an operating room actually functions. The show is also incorrect when it shows the interns in the operating room assisting in complex surgeries. From her experience she states, “Typically, interns on a surgical service take care of the patients on the floor. They rarely see the inside of the OR, and when they do, it’s usually to assist with an emergency or run-of-the-mill case”. Kirzner believes Grey’s Anatomy is a very interesting show, but she does not think any future medical professional should rely on the show to accurately display what it is like to work in a hospital.

An article published by Lily Martis named “9 ways your job is nothing like Grey’s Anatomy” interviews a previous CNN medical correspondent and author of the book The Real Grey’s Anatomy. One of the main errors I noticed throughout the show is the amount of time nurses are seen caring for patients. In Grey’s, nurses are rarely seen caring for patients. Holtz proclaims that nurses are “essential to health care”. Most of the hands-on procedures done in Grey’s Anatomy are done by doctors only. In real life, nurses have much more contact with patients than doctors and provide a great deal of hands-on care. Kathy Stephens Williams, a Registered Nurse, states, “Ninety percent of the things doctors do on the show are things that nurses do in real life. Plus, there’s no time to sit in patients’ rooms like that”. In Grey’s Anatomy, it shows doctor’s forming close relationships with their patients like in the season two Izzie Stephens and Denny Duquette saga. Holtz reminds us that doctors are indeed checking with the patients, but they “don’t spend anything like the kind of time actually in the room with the patients as the nurses do”. Holtz asserts that nurses are the ones taking care of patients while the doctors “get familiar with their cases and give instructions”. These inaccuracies remind one to not believe everything seen on Grey’s Anatomy is actually true.

One might argue that Grey’s Anatomy is a horrible show in every way because of the dramatic medical cases and story line. Many people claim the story line repeats itself too much, so they decide to not watch it. Everyone might not agree that Grey’s is a good television show; however, it has been nominated thirty-nine times and won five Emmy awards since 2005. Also, many students majoring in a healthcare field have to remember different diseases and medical terms; several nursing students I know relate study material to diagnoses made on Grey’s Anatomy. One could argue that even though the show does not depict exactly what working in a hospital is like, it indeed does use correct terminology when the doctors make diagnoses.

I have watched seasons one through three of Grey’s twice, and collectively the whole show once. Seasons one through three were the most interesting to me because it was unique watching the interns evolve from their first day as at Seattle Grace Hospital. The storyline of Grey’s Anatomy is one of the best of all time. Even though the medical cases are dramatized and the doctor portrayals are not one hundred percent accurate, it does not take away from the show. When watching the show, one should keep in mind it is a medical drama, so all things will not appear to be realistic. Trauma medical director at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix, Arizona, Dr. Jordan Weinberg, asserts, “We don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy to be educated. We watch it for entertainment value”. I completely agree with Weinberg, one should not depend on medical dramas to portray accurate information, just quality entertainment content. 

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A Critical Review Of Grey’s Anatomy. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/a-critical-review-of-greys-anatomy/> [Accessed 25 Oct. 2021].
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