November 10, 2008

Why the Firing of Brooke Smith is Bigger Than ABC Wants Us to Think

I have loved Grey's Anatomy since it started but things have not been going well lately at Seattle Grace. Things need to get back on track because the competition on Thursdays at 9 is fierce. CSI is still going strong on CBS, and on NBC, 30 Rock with Tina Fey is so rocking good and timely that it has risen to the top of my must see list.

So here's my gripe, and it still focuses on the firing of Brooke Smith. The episode last week which was Smith's last was a big disappointment and while ABC wants this story to go away, I'm not yet quite ready to let it go.

If you haven't watched the episode and still want to - stop reading here.

Dr. Hahn, played by Smith was right about calling UNOS (the national organ donor bank) to report the shady behavior of Seattle Grace regarding the heart transplant of Denny Duckett two seasons ago. The fact that her lover, Callie Torres, (Sara Ramirez) defended Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl) who by the way, she hates because Izzie slept with her husband, is just pathetic.

It just seems to me that the folks at ABC got skittish about Brooke Smith playing a strong, normal looking woman who happened to be a lesbian (who you made a full time cast member last season to great fanfare. Also, didn't you know that Smith is a fantastic character actress and not a bimbette?) Her exit was so disappointing (first time writer Bill Harper got the credit according to the Grey writers blog which did not touch on the controversy at all.) The timing of her departure really sucked since she was kicked out the week that California and three other states voted against gay marriage. Timing is everything and you blew it here.

The forced statement that Shonda Rhimes released last week mentioned that Smith was not fired because she played a lesbian and that the show still has lesbian on it -- Callie Torres -- rings false. On the episode, Callie denied she was a lesbian which is what led to Dr. Hahn walking away into TV nowhereland. And her constant on the job sexual exploits with Dr. McSteamy proves her sexual confusion. It's like she needs to prove she's not gay. For a show that prides itself on diversity, this doesn't cut it.

So was Smith fired because she is not "pretty enough" to play gay on TV? On mainstream TV girl on girl sex is seen as hot; yet a relationship between two normal looking women is what, scary?

I remember clearly two years ago the big controversy when Isiah Washington called T.R. Knight a "fag" and he was ultimately fired for uttering that slur. The cast mostly united behind Knight, yet I see no one stepping up to talk about this issue except for Patrick Dempsey who when he appeared on Ellen last week hysterically read ABC's talking points (which he actually pulled out of his pocket to show how pathetic it was)

We’ve had a great time working with her and that the conclusion of her [role] has been orgasmic’—I’m sorry, I’m dyslexic—’organic ending to the storyline.
Dempsey's statement:

After watching Dempsey I am more convinced that this is gaywashing and that ABC just got really nervous that the show was becoming too gay. But, how can ABC have this reaction to Grey's when Kevin on Brothers & Sisters is so gay all the time. He is even got married on the show. Is it that we are more accepting of gay men in normal relationships than gay women?

And where is the rest of the Grey's cast? Where's T.R. Knight? Couldn't this be a great time for them to stand up for tolerance? I'm waiting.