Saturday, September 29, 2007

Grey's vs. Private Practice

I found the premiere of Private Practice excruciating. The main flaw I think is that the spin-off of Grey's Anatomy attempts to simulate the life-or-death tension that lends weight to the parent show, but these situations are at odds with the show's setting: a cushy private clinic in Southern California. So far, the creators have failed to inspire in me any sympathetic feelings for any of the doctors in the clinic, much less their patients. I'll provide a more thorough analysis next week -- if I can stomach another full episode.

As for Grey's Anatomy itself, I have mixed feelings that the characters would approve of and wallow in with me. I have often been a willing victim of the writers machinations, allowing them to yank my emotional chain week after week, working up tears for dying patients and their conflicted doctors.

However, the only character I would unabashedly characterize as a SFL is Dr. Miranda Bailey. Known from the first episode as The Nazi, she is brash, frank, and can be bitter. She does have a softer, kinder side, but she is one of the few characters whose home life is rarely seen. In a four-episode arc, she went home for bed-rest, came back to give birth, and we saw her holding the baby. Since then, we've never seen her husband or child, and we certainly have never seen her making out with any of her fellow residents or an intern.

Because we rarely see Dr. Bailey show sympathy or emotion, it means so much more when she does, compared to Grey moaning for the 400th time about how messed up/depressed she is or that she can't decide whether to break up with Shepherd for the 24th time. Her indecisiveness and whinyness make her for me a completely unsympathetic character.

Yang's stubborn focus and ambition make her my second-favorite character. As with Bailey, her expressions of weakness are much more palatable because they are not, like Meredith's, unrelenting.

And Izzie Stevens? While I never thought her original mettle (overcoming her trailer park upbringing, proving she wasn't an airhead, giving up a daughter for adoption) was softened by her doomed relationship with Denny (a patient who died despite her unorthodox attempts to save him), I think it's now been compromised by her mooning over George (who is married to another hospital colleague). We'll see where they take the pair this year.

The premiere brought to the foreground a new character: Lexie Grey, Meredith's half-sister. It's too early to tell what will happen with her character (who has been brought on as a full regular cast member, beyond her originally-planned story arc). But I hope that she will be not just a shadow of Grey, but rather developed in a completely unique direction. And please don't let her be "dark and twisty"! Despite the fact that they share the same alcoholic dad and both have lost their mothers in the last year - let's see another personality deal with these factors in a very different way.


Sabine said...

I'm not a regular viewer of Grey's Anatomy--in fact, I'm about to show my complete ignorance of the show, so I'll cop to the fact that I've only ever watched bits and pieces of a handful of episodes. But I was wondering about the character of Callie. From my superficial glance, she looks like a tough broad with a tender heart. She's a supporting character, I guess, but from the sidelines, does she have any "Strong Female Lead" qualities?

Polly said...

Good point - I need to discuss Callie in a future GA post! I won't give away my feelings about her character yet...

Anonymous said...

well i am not a regular viewer of both these shows but some times i use to download private practice episodes to watch them.