It’s an epidemic: Networks can’t stop with the medical dramas. The latest entry in the tumescent genre is ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, which follows a group of attractive but clueless surgery interns working at a Seattle hospital. But what does Hollywood really know about the sleep-deprived, pressure-filled lives of fledgling doctors? To find out, we asked Dr. Pippa Newell, a second-year surgery resident at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, to diagnose Grey’s Anatomy: Is it creatively stable or terminally cliché? — As Told To Kristen Baldwin
Before I saw the first episode of the show, I was worried that there was going to be a lot of sex in the call rooms, and I was going to have to say that was really inaccurate because it’s never happened to me. But fortunately, there was no sex.
I love the diversity of the intern characters. There’s the cocky jackass Alex (Justin Chambers); the pushy Cristina (Sandra Oh); the pretty, timid Izzie (Katherine Heigl); and the dopey George (T.R. Knight). Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) seems really believable — tough but not overly assertive. I’ve heard stories of interns and attending physicians getting together, like Meredith and Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), but it’s very hush-hush. Most attendings are old and married and gross. If they were as hot as Patrick Dempsey, maybe it would happen more.
It seems like Anatomy is all about competition and the surgeons’ egos, but hospitals are not about ego. The patient comes first. The scene where the interns are heckling George during his first surgery, taking bets on whether he’s going to fail — that kind of thing doesn’t happen. And if somebody’s spilling stool into the abdomen, the attending isn’t going to taunt the intern — like ”What the f— you gonna do?” — the way Dr. Burke (Isaiah Washington) does to George. It’s training, not harassment. But the first time I watched the scene where Meredith’s patient has a seizure and she doesn’t know what to do, honestly, I felt nauseated because I’ve been in situations like that where I’ve felt just helpless. It was too accurate.
There’s a lot more downtime for the residents on the show than in real life. And no shifts are 48 hours. It makes for good TV, but it’s against the law in New York, fortunately for me. At the end of the shift, Meredith looked way too good to be post-call. If I’m really going to respect this show, by the sixth episode I want to see bags under the eyes; I want to see yellow teeth from drinking too much soda on call; I want to see a unibrow on somebody. Still, I think it’s a great show. I’m totally hooked.