Sunday, June 10, 2007

Anatomy of A Firing

Late last week, it was announced that Isaiah Washington would not be returning to the hit ABC show "Grey's Anatomy". After months of speculation, the producers of the medical drama elected not to renew Washington's contract for next season. In a statement released by his publicist, Washington made the "Networky" comment "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" (If "Networky" isn't a word... it is now). One of the ironies of this controversy is that Washington played a gay man in the Spike Lee film "Get On the Bus".

Even if you are like me and don't watch "Grey's Anatomy", you had to have been on a deserted isle somewhere not to have heard what all the fuss is about surrounding the Washington controversy. In case you were living the life of Gilligan for the past several months, a fight involving Washington and one of his co-stars (Patrick Dempsey) took place on the set of the show. During the dustup, Washington used a term for "bundle of sticks" in reference to the sexuality of another co-star (T.R. Knight).

In the weeks that followed, Washington denied using the term and then admitted that he did. In addition to stating that he was seeking therapy, Washington also met with officials from the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and filmed a public service announcement in which he said "words have power" to hurt or heal.

The bottom line is that Washington shouldn't have said what he said in regards to Knight's sexuality. He also didn't do himself any favors backstage at the Golden Globes when he denied his original comments while speaking to reporters... but uttered the slur again! However, I'm not sure if his comments are grounds for him getting the ax. After all, it did seem like he made a concerted effort to make things right. Of course it is human nature to question whether or not his actions to make amends were genuine.

This controversy does make me wonder how things would have been handled under different circumstances. I suspect that the producers of "Grey's Anatomy" feel that Washington is expendable and that the show can continue to have success without him. Let's say that everything happened as it did, but instead of Washington using the derogatory slur... it was Patrick Dempsey (aka Dr. McDreamy) or how about Ellen Pompeo (aka Dr. Meredith Grey). Do you think either of them would have been shown the door?

2 comments:

BookMama said...

I don't watch the show either but have read about all of this. I seriously doubt they would have fired Patrick Dempsey or Ellen Pompeo. (What would Grey's Anatomy be without, well, Grey?) Should Washington have been fired? I'm not sure how I feel about that.

I think another good question would be if the situation were the same but it was T.R. Knight, and the n word instead of the f word. Would Knight have been fired for that? I wonder. (And I don't have an strong opinion on whether he would have. Probably.)

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