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06 February 2008 @ 03:34 pm
Grey's Anatomy Lecture  

So, today, I was really dreading going to class. I really was not in the mood to sit through five boring lectures and I was contemplating skipping out on a couple of them. But, I got to campus and picked up the paper from my daily crossword fix. At the bottom of the page, in very small print, was a little blurb about a lecture being given at the College of Medicine featuring   two writers from Grey’s Anatomy discussing how they keep the show medically accurate. And, coincidentally enough, the lecture coincided with my two hour break. So, just for Lynnsey, who filled my phone’s mailbox with “OMG!!!!!!” texts when I told her I was there, here are the highlights:



1.       I had absolutely no idea where this auditorium was on campus. I had a feeling it was way over by the medical center, but I ended up having to wander around until I found it. I missed a little bit at the beginning because it was a bit of a jaunt for me from the speech and hearing building. There wasn’t as many people there as I thought there would be. Maybe 40 or 50 people. For some reason, I expected a lot more.

2.       The writers were Joan Rater and Tony Phelan, which I believe are one of the married writer teams on the show (but don't take my word for it, I missed the beginning). They have written "Physical Attraction, Chemical Reaction," "Oh, the Guilt," and "Wishin'and Hopin'," as well as a few more.

3.       This is only interesting for a TV nerd like me: Eight writers typically work on one script, but there is always one head writer (or in the case of the married writers, two head writers) for the episode, and Shonda Rhimes oversees it all. They split up the storylines (Meredith, Derek, Cristina, George, etc.) and the medical experts give their input on all things medical.

4.       Woot! Lots of good clips. They used them to illustrate who gives the various medical input for the show. First, of course, they have the medical experts that tell them how to make the medical conditions realistic. They also have an OR nurse who works for the show and she typically instructs the actors on how to work the machinery and make the OR scenes look realistic. Occasionally, the actors give their own input (they clip they showed was Cristina working on Ellis Grey’s heart condition on Ellis’ lucid day. Sandra Oh had a couple suggestions on what Cristina should do in that scene and it ended up working really well.).

5.       A couple funny actor stories: They said that since the show has been on for four years now, the actors have really found their groove with the medical atmosphere and medical jargon. On one of the OR sets, someone had been eating a sandwich and left it on one of the medical trays. One of the actors (who they said would remain nameless, but it was hinted that it was Patrick Dempsy) was getting ready to shoot a scene and found the sandwich on the tray and had a mini freak-out, saying “What are you thinking? This is an OR!” Hee! Another story they told was about Patrick Dempsy on a plane. Someone was having a medical emergency and he said that everyone basically turned to look at him. He had to explain that he really didn’t know what to do.

6.       They got a little bit of flack from the audience about the ferryboat arc (and Meredith’s “dying”) and Izzie saving the deer in the parking lot. Joan stood by what they did, stating that she liked the deer story. Tony didn’t say anything. I wonder what he really thinks about it. But, surprisingly enough, no George/Izzie jabs.

7.       A couple of funny questions: “Was the deer story the result of many mai-tais?” “Have you considered bringing back Denny again?” (Um, he’s dead. That’s basically what Tony said too. He was like “He already came back from the dead once!”

8.       They claimed to not know how everything will work out for the rest of the season if the writer’s strike were to end in the next couple of weeks (like say, this weekend?). Either they really don’t know, or they didn’t read this, or Mr. Ausiello’s Grey’s mole is wrong.

9.       They use animal guts to make the operations look more realistic. Sometimes the animal guts really stink.

10.   They like to take very basic surgical procedures and “sex” them up. For example, they wanted to give Bailey an esophageal rupture surgery for an episode, so they decided to make the patient a competitive eater who ruptured her esophagus in a competition.

11.   They talked a little about fighting against FCC regulations when they desperately want to say a certain word on the show. The introduction of the word “va-jay-jay” into pop culture vernacular (“Even Oprah says va-jay-jay now,” said Joan) was the result of one of these battles. More recently, they had to fight the lawyers on the Crap Man story (they guy who couldn’t take a crap after his surgery). They had to cut out the word “crap” 7 or 8 times from the script.

12.   The entire season is typically outlined on white boards in the writer’s room and it is completely locked away from outsiders. They won’t even let the actors see the white boards because they don’t want them acting to where their story is going. If they see an actor coming, they have a code word and big sheets to cover up all the boards. Most actors don’t even know what is going on with an episode until the table read.

13.   Sometimes the writers don’t know how to word the medical jargon, so they leave out the words in the script and just put down “medical.” Sometimes, they don’t have it correctly figured out before the table read, so the actors may read something like this (and this was acted out by Tony and Joan):

Cristina: Dr. Shepherd! Medical! Really bad medical!

Derek: When did the symptoms of medical start?

Cristina: A couple of minutes ago. Do you want me to medical?

Derek: Yes, give him medical CCs of medical. And let’s get him into surgery, stat.


All in all, it was a pretty entertaining lecture. I learned a lot about the writing and production of the show and I actually didn’t skip any of my other lectures. Who’s proud?

Current Mood: enthralledenthralled
Current Music: "Evil"--Interpol
ಌ: IZZIE&GEORGE.flatters on February 6th, 2008 10:58 pm (UTC)
that is sooo fuhreakin awesome OMG!!!!!! I watched in the Season 2 extras where the scripts would say medical medical. LOL. OMG that is sooo exciting!!

and I know who made your icon. winterr_breeze. She is sooo talented.
robinpoppins: Lemonrobinpoppins on February 6th, 2008 11:01 pm (UTC)
Awes! Thanks. I found it somewhere other than livejournal a long time ago and it wasn't marked. Methinks someone stole it. I felt really bad about not being able to credit it.

The medical medical was my favorite bit of the lecture. I think I'm going to start using it for tests: "When you do audiometric tests,you insert the medical into the ear and medical medical."
ಌ: WILSON. AM I YOU?flatters on February 6th, 2008 11:04 pm (UTC)
Oh man. I would PAY YOU to do that. OMG. That would be soo hilarious.

and yea. That icon is from a while ago. I remember.. yea.
jenepel: Mean Girls: So Fetch!jenepel on February 6th, 2008 11:24 pm (UTC)
That's really cool. Greys isn't my favorite show (although I've seen it all since my flatmate is obsessed) but I would go to pretty much anything dealing with TV show content and production. When I was at uni I went to several similar lectures that had writers or production people and they were always interesting - it's so cool to be let into the process.
robinpoppins: College Walkrobinpoppins on February 7th, 2008 12:44 am (UTC)
I was really excited. You heard me complaining about going to school on Hangman today. My day totally turned around after that lecture. My stance on Grey's is that I like the show and when they stick to what they do best, it's good. But, when they start a bunch of contrived plots and arcs and go over the top, I'm annoyed. It's a big love-hate relationship. But, it was really neat to hear all their behind the scenes stuff.

I tried to take a television criticism class this semester to make my last semester a little more jolly, but I had to have a bunch of media arts credits in order to sign up. What, TV enthusiast doesn't count?
jenepel: GG: reading Rory (steps)jenepel on February 7th, 2008 01:08 am (UTC)
I was a double major - English and Communications. And in the comm dept my concentration was TV production. Needless to say I took a whole bunch of classes that involved TV criticism or theory. Also screenwriting, and editing and of course lots of production stuff. I really miss all that! Hmmm...and now I worked in taxes. Well, I was a math minor.