The TV Guide description read: Erica discovers a shocking connection between one of her residents and a longtime patient. But what it should have said is Erica discovers a shocking revelation—she and her only primetime network lesbian storyline have been dumped by ABC.
I haven’t been this pissed off at television executives since Comedy Central cancelled Strangers with Candy.
Figuring out why ABC chose to be as antiseptic as Seattle Grace’s operating rooms is not as easy as one, two, three. Start here: Make up your mind. In the past the network has been supportive of gay issues. T.R. Knight, an out and outspoken gay actor, was cast in a leading role on Grey’s, and the show went so far as to fire co-star Isaiah Washington for his homophobic slurs. Yet, when fictional character Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) confesses, “ I am so, so, so gay," the actress gets fired?
Should we see Smith again, I’m praying it’s in a new series titled Privates Practice, you know, wherein she’s an out lesbian gynecologist.
For those of you unfamiliar with the history of this outrage, it began last season when two female doctors—gasp!—kissed in the season finale. It ended, apparently, last week when ABC announced it was flat-lining the lesbian plotline. The show’s producer, Shonda Rhimes, says the pink slip had nothing to do with the character’s sexuality. But it just so happened that in the episode before Smith’s firing, the two lesbian lovers were in bed, post-coitus.
Clearly, ABC doesn’t know a good thing when it sees it. With only a handful of lesbian or bisexual relationships on premium channels and daytime television, the network has no idea how desperate we lesbians are to see ourselves on television (and not as killers or vampires, thank you).
In a move that was, perhaps, ABC’s effort to appease a broader audience, let it be known that it has offended a loyal one. One that was willing to endure the Denny Duquette (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) flashbacks, and the Mc-naming nonsense, and the feeling that Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) could go Ally McBeal at any moment. One that had high hopes for where new lovers Erica and Callie (Sara Ramirez) might have taken us. And even though Grey’s was oftentimes a show with more drama off-camera than on, it still remained appointment television for me. Until now. Would it have been just too, too much to see two women together in primetime?
It’s fitting that the last episode of this storyline is called Rise Up. Avid viewers of the show have certainly done so. Also appropriate is the opening voiceover that tells the audience that death is the only thing it can count on. We are lead to believe that there might have been some method to ABC’s madness, some correlation between this statement and the death of Erica’s character and the lesbian storyline. But we’re fooled. Again. ABC does little to explain these endings, or have the writer’s concoct a respectable exit strategy. Instead, there are only two Erica-Callie exchanges. The first has nothing to do with their relationship; the second is supposed to wrap things up for the viewer.
“…there is no gray matter. …you can’t kind of be a lesbian,” says Hahn.
“Yes, I can,” responds Callie, alluding to her bi-sexuality.
“I don’t know you at all,” replies Hahn.
The rest we’ll coin Addison’s Disease. Kate Walsh’s Dr. Addison Montgomery drove off to Cali in her last episode. Brooke Smith’s Dr. Erica Hahn walks away from Callie in hers. When the former resurfaced, it was with a spin-off called Private Practice. Should we see Smith again, I’m praying it’s in a new series titled Privates Practice, you know, wherein she’s an out lesbian gynecologist.
In the meantime, let the bisexuals swing both ways if they must. As for me, I’m hereby canceling my appointment with Grey. I can and will only go one way on Thursdays at 9pm—directly to The Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC. The place for politics and the place with balls enough to keep a lesbo on in primetime.
Gail Eisenberg is the humor editor of Ducts.org and co-writer and co-star of Cat Eisenberg, Dog Eisenberg, an original multiplatform series commissioned by LOGO. She is currently developing a reality series for Bravo, in partnership with Jack Lechner and World of Wonder. Her work has appeared in Time Out New York, The Daily News, and Newsday, as well as on-air on Comedy Central and HBO.