I expressed my frustration with the season eight premiere of Grey’s Anatomy in my review over on CliqueClack TV, “McDreamy is dead to me.” My chief complaint: That Derek Shepherd was a sanctimonious, calloused cold fish who abandoned his wife in her time of need. Again. (A few years ago, after the house of candles and Post-It “wedding,” showrunner Shonda Rhimes had promised viewers that Meredith and Derek were “together forever.” There’s apparently been a change of heart.)
The more I thought about it, the more aggravated I became about what’s happened to one of the few female lead characters in a drama. In a mere two hour span, Meredith Grey lost her job (because she’d tampered with Derek’s Alzheimer’s clinical trial in order to help a friend), saw her husband abandon her, got her job back (because the Chief, whose wife Meredith’s meddling benefited, took the fall for her) and then lost custody of her adopted daughter.
Why do the writers seem determined to grind Meredith Grey into the dirt? Let’s review what this character has endured since she graduated from law school and began her surgical internship in the shadow of her renowned surgeon mother:
She fell in love with a man who didn’t tell her that he was married. This man then dumped her, after she begged him to pick her, so he could give his marriage another try, then called Meredith a whore when she started dating and sleeping with other people.
She learned that the chief of surgery had a lengthy affair with her mother that led to the demise of her parents’ marriage.
She risked her life to extract a live bomb from a patient’s chest cavity and then watched the guy from the bomb squad (Kyle Chandler from Friday Night Lights) blow up, literally.
She learned that her father, Thatcher Grey, had created a brand new family and had doted on his daughters, while Meredith never saw him once he divorced her mother.
Her Alzheimer-ridden mother Ellis, who’d ignored her daughter for most of her life, told Meredith in one of her rare, final moments of lucidity that Meredith had disappointed her because she was “ordinary” and had done nothing special with her life.
She allowed herself to sink into the water after she was accidentally knocked in following a ferryboat crash. Meredith nearly drowned, just as her own mother died, hours later in Seattle Grace while Meredith was unconscious.
After she treated her stepmother in the hospital for a case of hiccups gone horribly awry and the stepmother died, her father hit Meredith in the face, later banned her from the funeral, holding her personally responsible for what happened. He later fell off the wagon and showed up at the hospital completely drunk.
Her boyfriend, who eventually left his wife Addison for Meredith, started dating other people after Meredith told him she wasn’t quite ready to commit to marriage yet but wanted to be with him. (It should be noted that Derek's demands that she commit or else he was off to date others occurred not long after the bomb squad guy had blown up, after her mother died, after Meredith nearly drowned and after her father blamed her for his wife's death and then started drinking again.)
On the day she was going to tell her “Post-It Note” husband Derek that she was pregnant, he was shot in the chest by a gunman. When her colleagues were operating on Derek and the gunman demanded that they cease operating or be shot, Meredith offered herself up to the shooter be sacrificed instead of Derek and the other doctors. One of the surgeons messed around with some wires and made it look as though Derek had died on the table so the shooter would be satisfied and leave the room. Meanwhile, Meredith crumpled to the ground in enormous grief. Meredith regained her composure once she learned Derek wasn't dead and began operating on a fellow doctor who’d been shot. Then she had a miscarriage.
Her best friend Cristina wouldn’t speak to her for some time later as she was experiencing emotional difficulties after the shooting and blamed Meredith for it.
Meredith couldn’t get pregnant again, even after fertility treatments. When she and her husband Derek got the chance to adopt a baby, an error in her professional judgment led to not only her firing, but to her husband shunning her and to them both losing custody of that baby.
If all of this had happened to me in the span of a handful of years, I'd be balled up and sitting in a dark corner someplace.
I no longer wish to see Meredith Grey, an intelligent, talented, big hearted surgeon as a victim. What’s next, have Meredith Grey get early onset Alzheimer’s like her mother? Get cancer? Become an alcoholic like her father and her father-figure (Richard Webber)? Get hit by a bus? She could go the Dr. House route and either start abusing prescription drugs and then get locked up in a mental facility or ram a car through the front of Derek’s house-in-the-making then wind up in prison. Actually, I’d prefer to see Meredith crash her car into Derek’s unfinished house because then at least she wouldn’t be the one who was victimized. At least she’d be doing something other than getting crushed and let down by the people she loves.