ABC’s wildly popular program Grey’s Anatomy has hit gold since its pilot season in 2005. Every Thursday night at 9 PM Eastern, millions of Americans tune into their HD TVs to watch the latest gossip on television’s most popular hospital drama. Masterfully balancing a social life while simultaneously saving people from near-death, the surgeons of Grey’s Anatomy have captured the hearts of audiences as well as the attention of the critics. In addition to a strong showing in multiple arenas of awards, the show has received both Emmy’s and Golden Globes including Best Supporting Actress. The ratings also reflect the show’s wild popularity as it competes with some of the most well established programming on television for the Thursday night slot. In 2006 it was moved from Sunday night to this primetime position to compete with CBS’s Crime Scene Investigation. The swap was a success as it attracted 3 million more viewers than CSI.
What exactly is all the hype about and why is Grey’s so popular among American viewers? Grey’s Anatomy manages to combine the perfect combination of heart wrenching stories of illness, daring and innovative surgeries (especially detailed in high definition, so a warning is necessary for the squeamish), and personal drama among the surgeons. Poignantly and cleverly written, some episodes are tearjerkers while others keep a light and playful atmosphere. A huge allure to the series is the competitive nature of the surgeons who view their jobs as sport, always trying to outdo another. Procedures such as removing a person’s entire insides to remove a tumor, detaching two people joined together by a metal rod, or injecting a poison into a brain tumor are all in a day’s work for the surgeons of Grey’s Anatomy. Even plastic surgery sports a new facade of importance and competitiveness among the attending physicians at Seattle Grace Hospital.
The show does not revolve around the performance of death defying surgeries, but is focused on the life of Meredith Grey, as played by Ellen Pompeo. She is surrounded by an all-star cast including Patrick Dempsey, and Emmy award winner Katherine Heigl. The talented cast of the show won a Satellite Award in 2006 for Best Ensemble, Television. The characters quirky and amusing interactions with each other demonstrate that even in the life saving business, a little humor goes a long way.
American audiences have been captivated by hospital dramas for many years with the long running success of ER and other hospital based shows. In the summer of 2007, ABC aired a reality based television program about the real world happenings inside a hospital. This show was based largely off the success of the drama Grey’s Anatomy. While providing a real in depth look at hospital life and demystifying some of the procedures shown in Grey’s, the reality series was not met with as much enthusiasm as the drama. Audiences tend to prefer the intricate narratives, witty humor, and heart wrenching nature of the drama. Although some of the situations portrayed on Grey’s Anatomy are highly improbable and unlikely such as stealing a heart for a lover’s transplant, it is in the nature of a good drama to keep the audience engaged through fantastical plots and romanticized surgeries.