‘Grey’s Anatomy’ has always been a little bit cheesy, but in that delightful way. The show’s creator, Shonda Rhimes, likes to say that the series’ setting, Seattle Grace Hospital, is ‘high school with scalpels.’ And, for the last few years, that has meant that the show mixes actual medicine with torrid love affairs, long-lost relatives, and montages set to the latest adult-contemporary hit.
As a lover of all things camp, I’ve put up with ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ through a fair amount of ridiculous storylines, including a guy with a bomb stuck inside his body, the overabundance of nicknames beginning with "Mc" and ending with "-eamy," and the most squickworthy hookup in recent TV history, Katherine Heigl’s Izzie and TR Knight’s George (aka "Gizzie"). The best forms of camp either revel in their complete and utter absurdity (‘Absolutely Fabulous’) or manage to ground their outrageous plotlines in well-drawn characters with genuine emotions (‘Firefly’). Durings its first two seasons, ‘Grey’s’ did a good job of mixing weird diseases and oddly-behaving patients with emotional drama between the doctors. However, the final few episodes of the second season laid the groundwork for the show’s ultimate fall into absurdity.
At the end of the second season, Heigl’s character, Dr. Izzie Stevens, was dating (as much as you can date a dude who’s stuck in a hospital bed) a patient named Denny Duquette. Denny was at the hospital hoping for a heart transplant. He was second on the transplant list, and Izzie cooked up a scheme that would get her boyfriend a new heart – she would cut his LVAD wire, which would plunge him into a near-fatal state, thus pushing him up to the top of the list and guaranteeing he’d get a heart. However, the plan backfired, and Denny died. Or so we thought.
Because ‘Grey’s’ is a soap opera, Denny managed to propose to Izzie before dying. And also because ‘Grey’s’ is a soap opera, Denny just so happened to be a millionaire who left his entire fortune to Izzie. She used the money to open a free clinic attached to the hospital, and many viewers (myself included) figured the clinic would be used to give Heigl a spinoff or write her character off. Heigl has made no secret of the fact that she’s unhappy with the show and, in true Shelley Long fashion, wants to go make movies.
But now, Heigl is the victim of the single worst plot in the history of this poorly-plotted show: Denny is back from the dead. No, not in the soap opera way, in the ‘only she can see him’ way. And they’re having sex. A lot.
If you want to let the show’s most outspoken and difficult star out of her contract, this is one hell of a way to do it. Shonda Rhimes recently admitted that Izzie is suffering from a rare kind of brain aneurysm that makes her see her dead fiance. Even if that condition were remotely plausible, why drag it out over the course of an entire season and give a frickin’ ghost more screen time than the actual living characters? Maybe giving Heigl such cringeworthy material to work with is Rhimes’ idea of a joke, but the joke is on the viewers who keep tuning in every week to see if this dreadful storyline is over. Multiplying the absurdity of the storyline, Izzie’s ‘relationship’ with Denny means that she’s cheating on her actual boyfriend, Dr. Alex Karev. Who is hot and brooding. And alive.
To make a bad medical pun, this show is on life support. And should be taken off. Because it’s only camp if it’s entertaining, and this stuff is so bad it’s just bad.