UPDATED with links and slight correction. 9:51am 11-11-08
So, as word spread last week that noted character actress Brooke Smith had been suddenly and inexplicably fired from Grey's Anatomy, the conventional wisdom seemed to indicate that she had been let go because the execs at ABC were uncomfortable with her character conducting a lesbian relationship with another doctor.
I completely failed to do the math on this story last week, but I got a huge, hearty laugh when I finally put two and two together. If I were Isaiah Washington, I would be furious too, and I wouldn't be shy about saying as much. It's also smart of him to not come right out and say what is so hypocritical about the situation -- let the readers remember for themselves.
Aside from the unintentional hilarity of this update (and the possibility that Isaiah Washington may have some kind of wrongful termination suit on his hands), this brings up a disturbing question. Washington was fired a couple of seasons ago for allegedly using a homophobic slur while in heated exchanges with fellow actor Patrick Dempsey, in the apparent presence of TR Knight. Now the studio has stepped in and axed Brooke Smith allegedly because they were uncomfortable with the lesbian romantic subplot that had just developed. So, aside from the hypocrisy of firing an actor for expressing homophobia, then firing another actor as a result of apparent homophobia, why exactly do the execs at ABC insist on meddling with the show that, by itself, has become a huge smash hit and reaps tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars of profit for the company?
Can you imagine if the ABC execs decided, for whatever reason, that Michael Emerson or Terry O'Quinn just weren't working for them and canned them from Lost? The fans would have a conniption, and rightly so. As far as I know, there has been no tinkering on this level with Lost or Desperate Housewives, so why does Grey's Anatomy constantly have its story lines altered at the whim of studio executives? It would be one thing if the show were in a creative and ratings tailspin (cough-Heroes-cough), but the show is still pulling strong ratings and seems to be doing okay artistically.
Almost as troubling as the homophobia and hypocrisy at work is the apparent lack of creative control that Shonda Rhimes seems to have over her own show. As a viewer, why would I bother investing my time in a show when the character arcs and story lines can be altered or nullified without the consent of the creative leaders?
-- Scott Mendelson
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