Most jobs look a lot more appealing when they’re on the small screen. Office workers get better lighting, teachers somehow never appear exhausted, and lawyers always have freshly pressed suits even after 14-hour days. When it comes to TV medical dramas, the smoke and mirrors is amped up.
Grey’s Anatomy has been guilty, many times, of showing the medical profession as one full of an over-representation of attractive people who have a seemingly endless supply of energy to have casual sex and perform complicated surgeries. Scrubs are form fitting and flattering and hair is always perfectly curled even after working 24 hours straight. But sometimes Grey’s pulls back the medical curtain, to remind viewers that being a doctor is really, really hard. Sometimes it downright sucks.
On this week’s episode, the difficulties of being a doctor are shown in two very different cases. First, there was April, not only having her hair and part of her face vomited on by a patient, but then there was the added insult to injury of discovering a worm in the vomit. Like, a big worm. Huge. We’re still not sure how the patient didn’t gain an added 10 pounds thanks to all these worms living inside her.
April, Richard, Stephanie and DeLuca were tasked with removing the entire population of the world’s worms from their patient’s stomach, while undoubtedly dealing with an overall feeling of ickiness and itchiness for the next few weeks. While we’re on the topic, it was very unclear how this woman got worms. Something about unwashed fruit. Can we get some more details on that? Was it a specific fruit? Should we be using special fruit wash? Worms are definitely a deal breaker.
This week’s episode of Grey’s also dealt with the much more serious reason it sucks being a doctor, and that’s losing a patient. The medical profession has very few instances of patients stopping by for something good, with pregnancy as the only real winner. Pretty much every other reason to be in a hospital involves some form or sickness. Unfortunately for this patient, who we first met when Alex almost ended up in prison, her pregnancy, the only medical goodie, was complicated by a devastating cancer diagnosis.
Rather than have her partner spend the two months she had left to live taking care of her and their newborn baby, she requested a ‘Do Not Resuscitate,’ stripping Arizona and Amelia of the power to try to save her. It was truly a heartbreaking episode, which seemed to hit its peak sadness when the patient asked Amelia to hold her on her deathbed, as she admitted that she was in love with her friend, who was now her child’s only parent.
But, we were wrong. It got even more emotional when Amelia and Arizona had to tell the patient’s partner that she had died.
It’s easy to get caught up in the personal lives of the characters of Grey’s Anatomy and judge their actions, because TV allows us to live vicariously through others. Maggie’s feelings of betrayal over Meredith’s relationship with Riggs took up much of this week’s episode, with the needle pointing to sympathy wavering back and forth between each Grey sister. But it’s also because it’s easy to forget that these characters represent actual professionals who must make impossible decisions every day, so being able to trust their fellow surgeons and having a stable home life can be crucial to enabling them to concentrate at work.
Sure, hooking up in the on-call room seems fun, and who wouldn’t want to have a press conference after saving the lives of strangers on a plane. But sometimes Grey’s Anatomy reminds viewers that behind the hair and make-up is a really difficult profession.
Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on CTV.