Building Tension: Why I Keep Watching Grey's Anatomy

As I was watching season six of Grey's Anatomy, I was trying to figure out why I have watched it for six years. Many long-running shows do not keep me interested. I ditched Smallville after two and a half seasons (and, supposedly, three is the best! I ditched it in the middle of the third season). Smallville may not be such a good example, since many acknowledge that it is not really that good. I've hit a wall in Battlestar Galactica (2004) season three. My favorite shows (aside from Star Trek series) have been short and sweet: Farscape, Firefly, Deadwood. I wish they weren't short and sweet. But something always happens to me in third seasons of other shows. My attention wanes.

Grey's Anatomy is the outlier. I was displeased with season 4, but not enough to stop watching. I didn't even realized how displeased I was until the season was nearly over. I don't love all the characters. I HATE Izzy Stevens. Hate hate hate. In season 6, I HATE Reed whatever her name was. Fortunately she's gone (though, I did feel kind of bad at that whole shot-to-the-head thing.) Grey's Anatomy does not even fall into my genre of choice. I don't usually like popular shows. Right?

The writers of Grey's are stupendous at building tension. And I figured out how they do it! I must admit, I was proud of myself for this one. They create high-stakes relationships between the characters in the show. The core characters are interns (and, later, residents) who form romantic relationships with attending surgeons. When these underlings go into surgery with their attendings, it is not only the patient's life at stake. I found myself thinking that if the intern-residents screw something up on the operating table, they also jeopardize their relationships with the attendings. I find myself fearing the demise of their personal relationships more than the demise of the patient. That's a pretty clever way to keep me interested, especially since I didn't even realize what the writers were doing until I watched 90 hours of the show (wow...that is a lot of my time. I've spent over three days of my life watching Grey's Anatomy. I won't even calculate how many days I've spent watching the multiple Star Trek series.)

There are other reasons why I keep watching Grey's. McDreamy. McSteamy. Why doesn't Owen have a nickname? His powerful "screw her into submission" sexuality with Cristina is soooo sexy, even if it is a little creepy and macho. It's forceful and raw. Tinged with sadness. Beautiful. Kevin McKidd is my newest obsession, and he's a good character. The best thing about the characters on Grey's are their flaws (though, Meredith and Cristina's flaws get a little repetitive and annoying.)

Thankfully, Grey's didn't take the Gilmore Girls route and never give me what I wanted. I gave up on GG because I was tired of waiting for things to happen. My wishes were never fulfilled. Just when I was getting annoyed with the push and pull of Meredith and Derek's relationship, they gave me what I wanted. I love seeing Meredith and Derek together. It took long enough, but they exude a happiness that is infectious. When they're happy, I am happy. That being said, Grey's writers know that they cannot give us to much of a good thing. Just when Callie and Arizona seemed healthy and happy, their relationship hit the rocks, as real relationships do. It seems to me like there cannot be too much domestic felicity on Grey's, so the writers broke up Callie and Arizona. We'd get bored with perfect relationships. It's the Moonlighting curse. Get your characters together and you ruin the show. Since Grey's is an ensemble piece, it does not have to follow the same rules. (But man, speaking of characters getting together...Bones! I don't even watch the show regularly and I want them to do it. Even if it means the death of the show! I kid, but still, they at least need to do it.)

I am excited for season seven of Grey's. The finale for season six nearly gave me a heart attack, it was so intense and good. I usually wait to watch all the episodes at once, but I may just keep up with Grey's this year.

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