Miércoles 9 de Mayo de 2007, Ip nº 190

The New Modern Woman, Ambitious and Feeble
Por Alessandra Stanley

It’s time to play the blame game.

Everything wrong with “Grey’s Anatomy” and its soon-to-be spun spinoff is the fault of “Ally McBeal.”

Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas were early prototypes of the quirky but lovable career girl. David E. Kelley’s hit series about a deeply neurotic lawyer named Ally McBeal marked a turning point in the devolution of women’s roles in television comedy — the moment when competent-but-flaky hardened into basket case.

Thursday’s two-hour episode of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” in which Addison (Kate Walsh) has an emotional meltdown and flees Seattle Grace Hospital for a fancy wellness clinic in Los Angeles, serves as a prelude to a new, still untitled series centered on Addison and her new life in Southern California. It also suggests that the spinoff is doomed to be even sillier and more sex-obsessed than the original. And that is an achievement, considering that “Grey’s Anatomy” managed to squeeze in love scenes for a disfigured, pregnant disaster victim with amnesia.

Sex isn’t the problem with the new series; it’s the subjugation. Addison looks up her old friend from medical school whose perfect marriage has just ended and finds herself enmeshed with two other mature, reputable professionals: a fertility specialist and a psychotherapist. All three women are lovelorn, sex-starved and prone to public displays of disaffection.

On “Grey’s Anatomy” at least two female characters, Christina (Sandra Oh) and Dr. Bailey (Chandra Wilson) have confidence, big egos and an ability to keep their sorrows to themselves most of the time. The female leads on the new series are fragile and pitiable, and it’s a worrisome imbalance. The HBO series “Sex and the City” made light of female insecurity and let its flighty heroines come out ahead. Here even the most successful women are left behind in life.

It wouldn’t matter, since the show is admittedly over-the-top escapist fantasy for women, except that it is troubling that even in escapist fantasies, today’s heroines have to be weak, needy and oversexed to be liked by women and desired by men.

Ms. Walsh, a tall, elegant beauty, looks enough like Catherine Deneuve for the resemblance to have been threaded into a subplot of one episode. Addison first showed up at the hospital as a coolly amused villainess who intimidated the show’s heroine, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). Over time and plot twists, her character evolved into a more likable colleague, but for some reason, that change required her to become dizzier, chattier and very much like the ever confused and self-doubting Meredith — and, of course, Ally McBeal.

On Thursday’s episode Addison thought she heard imaginary voices in the elevator, made inappropriate sexual comments to a stranger and was generally in need of a man; she turned swoony when a handsome, lecherous colleague kissed her in a stairwell.

Shonda Rhimes, who created “Grey’s Anatomy,” also came up with the spinoff. Somehow, even in the hands of a woman, a show about female doctors finds humor and solace in their distress. Self-deprecation has been replaced with self-denigration.

People complain that hip-hop stars use obscene lyrics and lewd music videos to demean women. Sometimes, so do even the most bourgeois women’s television shows.


  05/05/2007. The New York Times.