By Lynette Rice
Updated November 26, 2008 at 10:15 PM EST

Maybe Katherine Heigl’s recent, pre-Emmy complaint about not getting nomination-worthy material on Grey’s Anatomy wasn’t entirely off base: In a preposterous new low, her once-popular character, Izzie Stevens (pictured), is sleeping with her dead lover, Denny — as in, actual carnal relations with a spirit — and now, we’ve learned, ABC is audience-testing a love story between the two. Last we checked, creator Shonda Rhimes wasn’t trying to create a Ghost Whisperer: Seattle, but then there isn’t a lot about Grey’s that makes sense these days. Actress Brooke Smith, whose Dr. Erica Hahn represented the only lesbian character on the Big Four networks, was abruptly canned. Mary McDonnell’s depiction of a cardiac surgeon with Asperger’s has been both ridiculous and unrealistic. And interns operating on interns is almost as laughable as Cristina (Sandra Oh) saving a pitiable pig. Add in Rhimes’ decision to have Izzie cavort with the dead, and Grey’s has fast become this season’s most maligned show by fans (if you don’t count Heroes, that is).

“Denny and Izzie together again is just dizzy. Stupid, stupid, stupid,” posts an reader named Susan. “As for all of those comments from people saying, ‘It’s just TV, it doesn’t have to be real,’ well, yeah, but on the other hand, it has to be somewhat RELATABLE!” Adds reader Lizzie, “Please, TV Gods, let it be that Izzie is suffering from an incurable brain tumor.…Let her die and be reunited with hot Denny in the afterworld, never to be seen on Grey’s Anatomy again!”

That’s what we hoped for too, until Rhimes told EW last week that Izzie doesn’t have a brain tumor.

Sadly, that’s all the explanation we’re getting for now (Rhimes, Heigl, and ABC all declined to comment for this article). However, with viewership down 17 percent from last year, an insider says ABC is conducting audience testing on the Izzie-Denny love story. Results aren’t in yet, so we’re forced to sift through future plotlines for any signs of relief. The good news is that Rhimes hasn’t given up on girl-on-girl love, as bisexual Callie is about to start canoodling with new intern Sadie (Melissa George). McSteamy (Eric Dane) may end up doing the dirty with little Grey, Lexie, played by Chyler Leigh (anything’s better than watching her pine over the oblivious George), and fan favorite Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) will show up for a special crossover episode with Private Practice in February. The bad news is that Jeffrey Dean Morgan is slated to appear at least through February. There’s never an exorcist around when you need one.

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