When I first chose to create my Blog based around Grey’s Anatomy, I chose this topic simply because it is a television show that I enjoy watching. However, as I started to analyze the show, I became aware of many hegemonic ideas in the show.
One of the most obvious cases of these ideas is the issues of power in Seattle Grace Hospital. As I have mentioned before, the chief of surgery at the hospital is a man. Also, three of the four head surgeons are men. While there are many female doctors, most are interns, rather than holding a position of power. Since starting my Blog I have thought more into this, and paid close attention to shifts of power that have been occurring on the show.
For my final Blog post, I really wanted to analyze a character that I haven’t really talked about much, Izzie Stevens, one of the female interns on Grey’s Anatomy. She has always been one of my favorite characters, but I have never really done any analysis of her character. There are some very interesting things about her character that both show hegemonic norms, as well as break them.
I do feel that Grey’s Anatomy breaks some norms because the very diverse cast. The cast is not only diverse racially, but also in many other ways. Some of the females would be considered “plus-size”. Some of the characters have various religions (even though this is not touched on much in the show). Also, the characters come from various backgrounds. Some were privileged, while others grew up poor. They all have various family situations, some simple, some complicated. I feel the writers of the show wanted there to be something for almost everyone to relate to. One of the big issues which they have failed to make a large part of the show is a homosexual main character, something I wrote about in my last Blog post.
I posted a video from the first season which shows one of the biggest counter-hegemonic ideas in the character Izzie Stevens. Her character was a lingerie model before going to medical school. In the first season, ads of her as “Bethany Whisper” come out, and she faces a lot of criticism by other interns. Alex Karev, another intern starts calling her Dr. Model, and eventually starts hanging up the ads throughout the hospital as a way to mock her. In the scene in the video, she walks into their locker-room to find her pictures posted all over. She starts to get upset, but then instead gives a very powerful monologue in which she takes off most of her clothes to give everyone an “up close look” at what’s in the ads. One of the lines that is very powerful is when she says “And oh my god, what are these things, breasts? How does anyone practice medicine hauling these things around?” She then goes on to say that she will be free of debt while her fellow interns have thousands of dollars in student loans to pay off.
When people think about doctors, no one really thinks of models as doctors. Izzie’s character breaks hegemonic norms by being a model, and not just a doctor, but a surgeon. This goes against the stereotype that models are “dumb”. Her modeling does become a problem in one episode where she is the doctor of a man who saw her ads. She thinks that he doesn't want her as his doctor because she was a model, and therefore is not qualified, however it turns out this wasn't the case at all.
Izzie Stevens: "This is who I was. It has nothing to do with who I am now. I'm a physician. A surgeon! And I am just as qualified as any other intern on this floor. So you're just going to have to get over your chauvinist crap and allow me to do my job."
Patient: "I'm sure you're a very good doctor."
Izzie Stevens: "Then what is your problem?"
Patient: "Look, I fantasized about you. About the woman in this photo, whoever she is. I'm not proud of it, but it's a fact. Do you know what they're gonna do to me today? I have cancer. And they're gonna lift up my legs and expose me to the world, and cut out my prostate, and my nerves. Effectively neuter me. So is it so hard to understand that I don't want the woman who is in that photo to witness... my emasculation?"
Another interesting thing about Izzie is that she grew up in a trailer park and she had a daughter when she was very young who she gave up for adoption. These things aren’t brought up much on the show, mostly because she doesn’t want people to know about them. But they are things that break hegemonic norms in that they are not what people expect from a beautiful, blond female doctor.
When it comes to relationships, Izzie falls into hegemonic norms. She is a hopeless romantic who often gets heartbroken. Whenever she is upset about something, she bakes for hours to try to make her pain go away. These are things that are often seen if female characters. Although Izzie follows this norm, other characters stray from the norm, showing that the writers of the show are trying to break some hegemonic norms when it comes to love and relationships.
Before I started analyzing Grey’s Anatomy, most of these things weren’t apparent to me. I simply watched the show for entertainment and didn’t think about any of the effects of the show. Now I constantly find myself looking at the show analytically, whether it is with the characters following or straying from norms. I wish I could keep writing because I feel like I could analyze each character individually based on how they follow and break norms.