Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Taking a Cue from New Kid on the Hallway

I really hate not having my little buttons of immediacy. I know coding HTML isn't hard, but it's time-consuming, time I'd rather be spending on composing an entry.
I had an entry, a lovely composition I wrote up in my head last night, and have forgotten it. Having forgotten even the topic, I was going to skip today's entry. But that's not the point of my blog. And NKotH's entry prompted me, in an indirect way, to remember that.
(Hm. I wonder if she does house calls concerning dissertations.)
I could tell you about the dream I had last night, but I've always been told dreams are only interesting to the people who have them.
So I'll talk about TV.
Do y'all watch Grey's Anatomy? (If you don't, this may not make any sense.) There was a repeat on this last weekend, the one that happens after McDreamy chooses his wife, who cheated on him, over Meredith. McDreamy and his wife were in couple's therapy, trying to fix their marriage. The counselor asked them what one thing would bring the most trust back to the relationship. Not in so many words, of course, and the implication wasn't "bring back *all* the trust to the relationship." McDreamy said if his wife moved from NY to Seattle. His wife said if McDreamy stopped talking to Meredith. Neither thought the other was being reasonable, of course. (Well, "of course" at least in terms of a TV show. I don't know this show well enough to know if the requests were unreasonable in reference to the characters' internal logic.)
So the couple is at an impasse. An excessively constructed one, of course; there could be other compromises possibly, but that would require too much nuance for a hour-long drama. McDreamy thinks he should be able to talk to Meredith because he likes her; even though he's not looking to have an affair with her, he was with her for nearly a year for reasons other than sex. The wife (sorry, I don't remember her name) thinks that she shouldn't have to give up her career just to prove her dedication to her marriage; it's a very successful career, and job openings don't grow on trees, even for very successful people.
What to do.
Well, one waits for the plot twists, of course. Meredith's boss (and McDreamy's subordinate) tells him to leave Meredith alone; she's a very public car wreck and his being with her is going to make things worse. The chief of surgery offers the wife an even better (monetarily) job at the hospital. And both are able to agree to the other's request.
So. What's the point, other than summarizing. Well, I think that it's interesting that the couple don't explain the reason for the change of heart to each other. They haven't really made a compromise for the other person; things just worked out so they had to do what the other person asked. (Okay, she didn't really have to take the job; on the other hand, the job was set up to be much better than her old job, with the perk of being near her husband set up to be low on the list of advantages.)
I was also caught by the lack of trust demonstrated by the hands. The couple explain that they have made the concessions to the marriage counselor, who is very pleased with the progress. The wife tentatively holds out her hand so McDreamy can take it; when he doesn't immediately, she reaches a little more toward him, then drops her hand. And then McDreamy makes a gesture like he'll take her hand, with the same hesitation and awkwardness. They can't quite connect. They haven't made the sacrifices for each other, but for themselves.
In particular, these exchanges are intriguing in reference to a later show, which I happened to see earlier. In it, McDreamy comes home and notes that his wife had an affair. His wife -- being someone who can bear the truth, even when she speaks it -- agrees, clearly wondering where he is going with this. And he notes that he may not have been fully involved in the marriage. And she agrees. It's a moment where the trust is coming back; it seems to me that there had to be some restored trust in order to make these admissions, on both their parts. Additionally, there had to be some empathy to understand each other's admissions.
I like it. I like it a lot. I read recently (I believe it was in the Utne Reader) about how love stories are always about the beginnings and the endings, and never about the basic, day-to-day slog through the middle. TV shows are especially prone to this, soaps even more so. And this exchange seems to be indicating that Grey's Anatomy may be trying to get at that slog.
They won't keep to it, of course. Someone important behind the scenes will say it's not interesting enough, and the marriage will fall apart, maybe to get back together again...
But it's encouraging to see this little slice.


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