Grey’s Anatomy Takes A Breather To Portray Trans Issues Right And Pit Alex Against Avery
By Alex Cranz
We meet again filler. You tried to hide behind the Plaintains and an out of left field Alex narration but I see you for what you are.
Filler. (That has the most impact if you say it like a Tea Partier says Obama.)
That being said, if filler is what we must suffer through than it had damn well better be loaded to bear with important social messages and humours a plenty and this episode, for all it’s dirth of drama, was loaded to bear with the social messages and humours.
First there was the story of a trans boy in love with a trans girl, preparing for a major surgery that would improve his mental health exponentially and dealing with a father that insisted on calling him “her.” It had next to nothing to do with anything else in the episode and was primarily a showcase for Alex’s awesomeness, Jackson’s 9th Season douchiness and, oh yeah, it was a great example of how to handle trans issues on television. The people who couldn’t wrap their heads around it were the bad guys and the good guys were all smart, respectful and supportive. Sure the actors were cisgendered and that’s a bummer, but damn it’s a massive step up from the transphobia that generally pervades our cultural awareness you know? And like Bailey I’m going to be a frickin’ optimist about this.
Poor Bailey. She was only around for one scene and really only there to get snarky in millionaire playgirl Callie Torres’s face. I like that her “shut it rich jerks with lawsuits that are ruining the hospital” sass has been directed at the only two who would ever put up with it. Derek puts up with it because he knows he’s dreamiest when he looks like someone kicked his puppy and people hating him is basically drop kicking a baby dog and Callie puts up with it because she’s Bailey’s maid of honor and knows that the woman is essentially a single mom working 80 hour weeks and not possessing massive trust funds and 15-30 million dollar payouts of money that don’t assuage the grief but do make retirement planning easier.
But Callie is also still very, very mad. She’s a funny beast since the crash. Affected like it in a way no one else is. She lost her family in an instant. She is at once a survivor of it and yet completely apart from the four who were actually on the ground. While they struggled just to survive she was stuck somewhere clutching a kid and thinking, for four days we’ll never see, that she’d lost everything. She was powerless and suing was her attempt to reclaim some of that power back. But it spun out of control and now she’s there again without a say in what nastiness is going to be dumped on her and her family and friends.
Like an abused J.Lo she has had Enough guys. She’s done, and Webber, being old, wise and not really giving a hoot about anything since his wife’s death, is only too happy to embark on a roadtrip with her to Portland where they play a couple so convincing I actually shouted “make out” at the scream at one point before realizing what I’d one.
James Pickens Jr has a unique vibe with Sara Ramirez, often bouncing off her in a way that’s very theatrical. There’s a rhythm to their interaction thats a little sitcomish in a very good way. But really they just seem like they have fun working together and that joy pervades everyone of their scenes, even as their roadtrip reveals a dark future full of impersonal techno-medicine.
While the Plantains kept things moving on the serial front Kepner got her moment to shine as something more than a self-flagellating weepy evangelist Christian. Instead she was a confident lady wielding burritos and trying to date an adorable EMT even though she’s still kind of hung up on Jackson. The EMT being, basically, a less NiceGuy™ and more super hot George is kind of perfect for Kepner, even though his partner definetly thinks they’re both idiots and would prefer Shay or Dawson from Chicago Fire to eat all her burritos with.
April’s desperate need to save a young boy is meant to be the focal point of the episode, and it does a good job bringing everyone into the fold (well, almost everyone) but while it could have had the potential to be an LVAD cutting level of drama it always stays a little too rote. So when Jackson, Alex and Derek fess up to being the “masterminds” its less about them sticking up for their friends and more about the undercurrent of sexism that took up the whole hour.
Which is odd right? How can an episode tackle a trans guy’s relationship with his girlfriend and father so well but then stumble when dealing with the show’s large cis lady cast? It’s like a gender faux pas. Yet it happened. Alex and Jackson were the major contenders for a ‘face of Seattle Grace’ campaign because Cristina turned the offer down and apparently every other woman on the show wasn’t good enough. What, are pregnant FDA trial ruining attendings and lesbian amputees and bisexual moms and Bailey not good enough to be considered? It was irksome and then made exponentially worse by having the generally fabulous Stephanie and Jo fight over “their men.” To then have those men step up and take the blame for the surgery despite Cristina and Meredith being RIGHT THERE? It was kind of all really gross. Like pre-Addison as an attending so all the authority figures are male season one Grey’ gross.
At least the boys haven’t been shoehorned into Operation Buy Out, Callie’s episode ending “bombshell.”
- Heather continues to be a national treasure. Particularly her faceplant into the door. TINA MAJORINO DON’T LEAVE US FOR THAT PILOT YOU’RE ON.
- Okay, Jo is perfect for Alex. They’ve convinced me. Between howling at how Crowen sex and snagging donuts and eating them like a doofus she’s tops. So Meredith’s terrible attempt at dating advice was unncessary but fun.
- Webber’s look of pain when he sees giant Derek head in the elevator.
- That lady EMT has been with the show for years. Remember when she had that one partner who was a secret super racist and Bailey botched closing his abdomen to ruin his swastika and Cristina berated her for using her to make the guy feel uncomfortable?
- Meredith’s hunger face.
- Sofia is starting to feel like Nile’s wife on Frasier with all her off-screen development this season. The kid’s never even spoken on screen but apparently she is QUITE the chatty Cathy.
- Happy Crowen warmed my heart more than it should have. I hope those crazy kids work it out.
- I have cooled to Stephanie and Jackson, mainly because Jackson has turned into a super douche.
- Later This Week: The survivors make a bid for the hospital, or they will if they can get around a very, very angry Arizona.