The ABC series Grey’s Anatomy has become a flash point for Hollywood’s in-out-in ambivalence toward gay tolerance. First, T.R. Knight, who plays Dr. George O’Malley, announced he was gay after cast mate Isaiah Washington directed a now-infamous slur at him and was fired for it. Now, Brooke Smith, who played lesbian character Dr. Erica Hahn, has been booted from the show, ostensibly because her budding relationship with Dr. Callie Torres, played by Sara Ramirez, didn’t have right “magic and chemistry,” according to executive producer Shonda Rhimes. Many don’t buy it, including Smith (who’s last appearance is this Thursday’s show) in this interview with EW.com. Count on Smith’s dismissal being analyzed with more zeal than the U.S. presidential results.
The pairing of Hahn and Torres, dubbed Callica by the show’s hardcore fans, was Grey’s first significant gay relationship. Smith suggests ABC, which is owned by Disney Co, was under pressure from advertisers and demanded Rhimes end the couple’s exploration “south of the border,” as they coyly put it on the show. Blogger Elaine Lui also mocks the official version on Laineygossip.com, here.
They’ll be no new femme relationship for Dr. Torres (who spent much of the Callica relationship in a panic about her attraction for Dr. Hahn and who mystifyingly had to turn to the resident stud to help her figure out how to please a woman). Rhimes says Torres will mourn her loss and that it “belittles the relationship to simply replace Erica with ‘another lesbian.'” How respectful. And how safe. Even more safe than testing the waters with two female lovers, a scenario that’s not exactly a turn-off for male viewers. (There’s talk a female bisexual intern will come on board as if bisexuals and lesbian characters are somehow interchangeable.) But maybe there’s a way out of this that could make everybody happy: Why don’t they get TV’s most beloved (and asexual) lesbian, Ellen DeGeneres, (who’s also under contract to ABC) to step in as Dr. Torres new love interest, just in time for November sweeps? Win-win-win, as they say, as long as they keep it “north of the border.”