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Grey’s Anatomy’ on campus

Brian Doxtader | Wednesday, December 7, 2005

A show like “Grey’s Anatomy,” which falls squarely into the medical television mold, would initially seem to have little to offer to the genre. It’s not as groundbreaking as “E.R.,” as melodramatic as “General Hospital,” as ironic as “Scrubs” or as topical as “M*A*S*H*.”

But “Grey’s Anatomy” has become a surprise hit and a popular and critical success.

Positive word-of-mouth, coupled with the show’s impressive consistency and talented cast, have turned “Grey’s Anatomy” into a bonafide smash hit, especially here at Notre Dame.

“I never miss an episode,” said Anna Rodriguez, a junior PLS major. “If I can’t be home to watch it, I make sure my roommate tapes it for me.”

What is it about “Grey’s Anatomy” that sets it apart from similarly themed medical shows?

“You have those other medical shows, like ‘E.R.’ and ‘Scrubs,'” said Caitlin Hildebrand, a freshman pre-professional studies major. “But ‘E.R.’ is really serious and ‘Scrubs’ is really funny. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ finds a happy medium.”

Unlike shows like the long-running series “General Hospital” and “E.R.,” “Grey’s Anatomy” depends on its solid cast and charismatic characters. Though Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) is nominally the show’s star, the intertwining storylines and ensemble cast theatrics contribute a great deal to the program’s popularity. Like many great television shows, “Grey’s Anatomy” relies heavily on its strong characterizations. The show boasts a wealth of talent that includes Sandra Oh (“Sideways”), Ellen Pompeo (“Law and Order”) and Isaiah Washington (“Exit Wounds”), all of whom have substantial acting chops and experience.

“The cast has a very good chemistry,” Rodriguez said. “There are a variety of personalities, and I think most people could relate to at least one of them.”

Additionally, “Grey’s Anatomy” features a genuine breakout actor in Patrick Dempsey, whose heartthrob good-looks and status as a rising star has become one of the show’s major draws.

The show features solid screenwriting, which balances seriousness and comedy, and also makes the lives of the characters intertwine with the medical cases presented.

“The medical cases are a metaphor for the plot,” Rodriguez said. “I like how they relate so well to what’s going on with the characters.”

These medical cases, while sometimes bizarre, are surprisingly accurate, especially when compared to the hyperbolic drama of “E.R.”

“Obviously, it’s not completely accurate,” Hildebrand said. “Every episode has to have some dramatic medical case to appeal to audiences and get people to watch, but they do a good job of presenting the medicine aspect of the show. I think they do a better job than a lot of other doctor shows out there.”

Whether or not “Grey’s Anatomy” is capable of maintaining the momentum and popularity it has garnered thus far remains to be seen, but so long as the cast and writers continue their high level of excellence, the show should remain a Sunday night cornerstone. If anything, “Grey’s Anatomy” should continue to rise in popularity as its reputation increases.

“I think word gets around when there’s a good show,” says Hildebrand. “‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is really good and will probably get more popular as more people find out about it.”