The fifth episode of Off the Map aired last night, and while prevailing opinions at the beginning of the show’s run were that it was simply “Grey’s Anatomy in the jungle,” it’s become clear (to me, at least) that this show is not Grey’s Anatomy. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s examine.
From a medical standpoint, they’re apples and oranges. Off the Map is bat-shat crazy in a way Grey’s needn’t be because the former show’s characters don’t have access to a vast array of advanced medical amenities — and I like it that way. Last night, for example, Zee removed larvae from the skin of a patient (whom she used to be involved with) using bacon. Seriously. She put strips of bacon on his (chiseled) chest to draw out some larvae that had embedded themselves inside his skin. If you didn’t turn green at the end of the treatment, when she removed the larvaed bacon off of him, you are a stronger person than me. I won’t even get into the underwater amputation…
So medically speaking, clearly there’s no lack of jungle-esque drama. Fantastic. A potential issue could be found in the characters themselves, however. In a medical drama, there are only so many dances the characters can perform. The workplace love tango. The timid hero cha-cha. The hard-headed hottie Paso Doble. Or so I thought. Rachelle Lefevre, who portrays Ryan on the show, puts it to me a slightly different way that makes much more sense: Map is about rebuilding. “To me, Grey’s Anatomy — as an audience member — was about these surgical [interns] trying to figure out what they wanted to do with the rest of their lives. They have goals. All of them are chasing something, have their sights set on something and are running towards it,” she says. “On our show, it’s about people running away from stuff. It’s sort of the opposite of that concept.”
Lefevre understands why comparisons are made, but as the series has progressed, the distinctions are becoming more apparent. “They sort of get traumatized as the seasons go on Grey’s Anatomy; our show is about people who have been traumatized,” she says. “They’re starting over. They can’t set their sights on something or work toward something — they’re not that together. They have no idea what they want. They basically went out into the jungle to practice medicine because the medicine was the only thing they had left.”
It’s worth pointing out that the characters on Grey’s have also spent this entire season rebuilding (following the shooting), but whereas that’s a chapter in that team’s lives, Map‘s entire premise is based on rebuilding. Personally, I like these characters enough to stick around to see how they do. What about you, PopWatchers?