Grey’s Anatomy has been running on the screen for nearly fifteen years now. ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ is a critically-acclaimed show and for good reasons; colour-blind cast, representation, and more.
The phenomenal show has never furthered stereotypes. Even after sixteen seasons, the show is still one of the frontrunners. Over its course of airing, Grey’s Anatomy has covered numerous issues; gunmen and bomb scares to numerous others. However, last year, one episode especially caught the attention of all. Grey’s Anatomy’s sexual assault episode involving a survivor and all the women of Grey-Sloan Memorial had us standing in applause for the series.
It was sensitivity on screen like never before….
Grey’s Anatomy’s history of tackling relevant issues
Shonda Rhimes never minces words and goes full steam ahead. Grey’s Anatomy is a reflection of her efficient way of bringing social issues and their repercussions on the screen by way of the show’s characters. Remember when Callie Torres stood up to her religious father, embraced her sexuality, and shouted: “You can’t pray away the gay”? This is one of the many empowering moments of the show.
Grey’s Anatomy has been at the forefront of portraying relevance by way of strong characters with stronger plot-lines. The medical drama has done a full monty on all the issues. Be it feminism and same-sex weddings, or even interracial relationships and transgender rights, it has been instrumental in depicting every aspect with the utmost sensitivity. The best part about the show is that it does not create a caricature of the issues. Rather, it gives them ample time and space to have an impact on the viewer’s mind.
Grey’s Anatomy’s sexual assault episode: The one which had us all applauding
Even though Grey’s Anatomy had been phenomenal in all its portrayals, one episode from last year had us paying attention even more than the usual, if possible. The show’s fifteenth season received special applause for being progressive. Grey’s Anatomy Season 15 had a no holds barred approach when it came to social issues as they showed issues such as black lives matter, domestic abuse, and more. However, it was Grey’s Anatomy’s sexual episode which garnered the maximum praise.
Watch: Grey’s Anatomy powerful episode
In this particular episode of season 15, we see a sexual assault victim being rushed into the hospital. Dr Jo, who herself has been a victim of assault and domestic abuse, understands the wounds for what they are, right away. However, this is the moment the show starts to take a route none has taken.
King of Chart Reading – Price Action | You can’t simply execute a trade every time a strategy setup occurs, says Ezekiel Chew. READ MORE
Grey’s Anatomy’s sexual assault episode: The difference in the portrayal
The first thing which we notice is not the compassion but the empathy portrayed here. Jo ensures that the survivor gets comfortable enough to get tested for the assault, rather than policing her. And the doctor stays with the patient until the latter gives her consent.
Not only this, Grey’s Anatomy’s sexual assault episode lets the survivor take the lead instead of letting the male doctors be the saviours here. The whole episode shows how she decides what she wants. The empathy of the women doctors is another thing to note here, along with the quiet acceptance with which the male doctors step aside.
The first thing which we notice is not the compassion but the empathy portrayed here.
The most powerful scene, however, is this one. The entire women staff of Grey-Sloan Memorial form a human chain to show their solidarity and support for Abby, the patient. This was not just any doctor-patient relationship. This was a silent support brimming amidst all the women who had faced one abuse or the other at least once in their lifetime.
Watch: The most iconic scene of Grey’s Anatomy
Then came the Ellen Pompeo moment
Once the “Silent All These Years” episode ended, Ellen Pompeo who plays Meredith Grey urged viewers to come out and seek help. She further provided the hotline number of RAINN – Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.
Later on, Oklahoma State University’s researchers examined Google Trends and Twitter data to reveal that due to the impact of Pompeo’s call, “RAINN” was being searched 41% more than expected after the episode. Search interest for terms such as “rape” (8%) and “sexual assault” (9%) also increased. Similarly, tweets mentioning the RAINN account upped 1,097% and tweets with the words “sexual assault hotline” and “RAINN” saw 2,000% and 300% rise. As a direct consequence, phone calls seeking help from the RAINN hotline increased 43% in the 48 hours the followed the episode aired.
Our society is infested with antisocial elements who never leave a chance to abuse their power. Sexual abuse is on a rampant high, whether it happens behind the doors or on the streets. In this scenario, it is extremely important to bring forth the issue on the screen, with all its triggers intact. Grey’s Anatomy’s sexual assault episode ticked all the boxes when it came to the representation of sexual assault survivors, turning out to be one of the most powerful and sensitive moments in the history of television.
One cannot remind storytellers enough how representation matters, and this is exactly how representation should work, like it did in Grey’s Anatomy’s sexual assault episode.