Monday, April 8, 2013

'Grey's Anatomy' Shocks; Subtely Raises Awareness About War in Syria

It has surprised audiences with tales of exploding bombs, cold-hearted shootings, and disastrous plane crashes. But last week, longtime ABC drama Grey’s Anatomy did something truly shocking--and important. The episode titled “She’s Killing Me,” aired on April 4, continues to follow the personal and professional lives of the main cast of characters, but this time with a key difference. As the surgeons of Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital go about caring for patients, they have the additional task of training two Syrian surgeons in battlefield trauma medicine. The surgeons were flown out of the war zone in Syria to learn from a highly qualified team of American doctors. To begin the process, the Grey-Sloan team assembles what it deems are basic tools, but quickly discovers that the Syrian doctors have far fewer tools to work with. Numerous scalpels are removed off the surgical tray, and looks of confusion and surprise take hold on the American doctors’ faces as one of the Syrian surgeons turns off the lights and holds a flashlight over the simulated patient.
A Syrian surgeon holds a flashlight over his patient to provide light for surgery
Grey’s Anatomy is not known for subtlety, typically showcasing overly dramatic, often utterly improbable story arcs that involve disaster after disaster mixed with personal triumph and despair. Nevertheless, last week’s episode serves as a shockingly subtle and extremely effective public service announcement about the ongoing, escalating war in Syria. By visually demonstrating the hardships faced by Syrian doctors trying to keep their patients alive--patients that include many children--Grey’s Anatomy undoubtedly called the situation to the attention of millions of fans and perhaps demonstrated a new way in which art can raise public consciousness and affect social and political change.

A clip of the episode is available here.


  1. Agreed! I thought it was a very tactful way of introducing an interesting plot development. Not like the usual back-to-back disaster upon the seemingly-jinxed doctors to create drama. But instead a very simple tension-inducing plot conflict of how can we help problem-solve something that is so dire but quite hopeless.