Even though I don't watch Grey's Anatomy, I'm intrigued by the story behind the recent firing of Brooke Smith, who played Dr. Hahn, the love interest of Dr. Callie Torres. Monday, Entertainment Weekly's Michael Ausiello reported that Smith didn't get the boot because creator/writer Shonda Rimes wanted her to leave, but because the network, ABC, wanted her gone. In an interview, Smith told Ausiello: "I really hoped we were going to show what happens when two women fall in love and that they were going to treat it like any heterosexual couple on TV. And so I was surprised and disappointed when they just suddenly told me that they couldn't write for my character anymore." Shonda Rhimes has offered this statement:
"Brooke Smith was obviously not fired for playing a lesbian. Clearly it's not an issue as we have a lesbian character on the show – Calliope Torres. Sara Ramirez is an incredible comedic and dramatic actress and we wanted to be able to play up her magic. Unfortunately, we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke's character would sustain in the long run. The impact of the Callie/Erica relationship will be felt and played out in a story for Callie. I believe it belittles the relationship to simply replace Erica with 'another lesbian.' If you'll remember, Cristina mourned the loss of Burke for a full season."
TV critics are being extremely vocal about this issue. EW's Michael Slezak writes, "Brooke Smith's Grey's Anatomy ouster is not right and not okay… Was it the lesbianism they objected to, or the fact that Dr. Hahn didn't bake muffins or decorate lockers or act generally flighty-flaky-cutesy or hook up with hot male colleagues to help her sort out her sexual orientation? Yeah, you could say I'm outraged." Melissa Silverstein from the Women & Hollywood blog says, "I loved the storyline for so many reasons, especially because neither Smith nor Ramirez were stick thin." And Mary McNamara of the LA Times offers this theory:
"I suspect what irked whoever made the call… [was] not that they were both women — good heavens, how dull — but that they were, how shall we say, average size. With hips, you know, and actual breasts. Not two girly waifs exchanging a stolen kiss or a grope in the women's room stall over a line of coke, not an androgynous club kid putting her best moves on some sitcom heroine. But two women of substance, physically and psychologically, falling in love and talking about it way too much, the way women tend to do."
Women & Hollywood's Silverstein also points out that the timing is suspect: "Remember the term from West Wing 'taking out the trash?' That's when they dump news on a day when nobody will notice. Me thinks ABC did some trash dumping last night." And it is interesting that today is the day California voters vote on Proposition 8, which seeks to outlaw gay marriage in the state. It's tough when you don't know what the network execs — or even Shonda Rhimes — are really thinking, but doesn't it seem like Grey's Anatomy missed out on an opportunity to make some truly groundbreaking television? Exclusive: 'Grey's Anatomy' Discharges Dr. Hahn, Brooke Smith's 'Grey's Anatomy' Ouster Is Not Right And Not Okay [EW] Critic's Notebook: Brooke Smith's Firing Is Bad For 'Grey's Anatomy,' And The World [LA Times] ABC Freaks Out About Gay Grey's Storyline [Women & Hollywood] 'Grey's Anatomy' Has Change Of Heart About Dr. Hahn [USA Today]