'Grey's Anatomy' Is Still Taking On Big Issues In Important Ways

by Caila Smith
Originally Published: 
Grey's Anatomy/ABC and Ashley Danielsen/Twitter

In a world hurting for understanding and empathy surrounding controversial, difficult topics, it’s refreshing to witness public figures, movies, shows, and songwriters using their platforms to inspire their followers to make a difference. (I mean, with the government in the shape that it’s in, we’ll take all the help and coverage we can get, right?) And every single Thursday night, Grey’s Anatomy and their easy-on-the-eyes doctors are doing just that.

With the ABC show’s 16th season in full swing, the filmmakers of Grey’s Anatomy haven’t wasted a moment shining a light on big issues. In the most recent episodes, you’ll find Meredith Grey risking everything near and dear to her by advocating for change in the way low-income patients are treated, while also dealing with the aftereffects of operating on a refugee pediatric patient without citizenship and billing it under her daughter.

If reading this sparks a feeling of déjà vu, you’re not alone.

In January, Casey Smitherman, past-superintendent of Elwood Community Schools in Indiana, was arrested when she used her son’s health insurance to obtain treatment for a sick student after he was denied care at a different clinic. Since health care had already failed to treat the 15-year-old boy once, Smitherman did what needed to be done for the health of the child. And for it, she was charged with three felonies, and it cost her a job.

But regardless of someone’s socioeconomic status, identity, or immigration status, we are all deserving of equal medical care. But in America, this isn’t the case. Unless the pocketbook is sufficient, the insurance is accepted, and a computer gives the authorization for treatment, people aren’t offered proper medical care. It’s America’s need to be money-hungry is what it is. And it makes me sick.

The health care system is failing folks all around us — people just like you and me — and they do it with their rules, regulations, guidelines, and “tough luck” mentality. For die-hard fans of Grey’s Anatomy (cough, cough, me), it’s not unusual to see doctor’s pushing for proper patient treatment and being denied permission to do so by those higher up in power.

But throughout this season and last, Meredith Grey and other Grey-Sloan Memorial surgeons have taken a powerful stance against that authority by saying, screw you and your power.

It’s this refusal to step down for the good of another person that is drawing in viewers and keeping them enthralled. This is the compassion, love, and understanding we wish we’d see in our off-screen lives as well.

In the wake of numerous high-profile sexual assault cases, Grey’s Anatomy moved viewers with its authentic, heartbreaking, and transparent tribute to victims of rape and violence. By showcasing the strength it takes to survive such abuse, survivors everywhere were impacted by the episode’s raw relatability.

And for one of the first times ever, Amelia Shepherd is speaking out about living life after the loss of her son Christopher this season. As shown in the Grey’s Anatomy spinoff, Private Practice, Christopher lived for just minutes before passing in Amelia’s arms from anencephaly — a condition which causes the brain, skull and/or scalp to fail at developing properly.

As a loss mom myself, it is everything to me when I see child loss acknowledged, let alone the grief from its hold acted out properly. But Amelia plays the role of a bereaved mother perfectly.

Grey’s Anatomy is creating a bridge for heavy and controversial discussion among its viewers. It’s making people think about those things they do not see, and they are addressing the realities in this world through their reality TV.

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