TV: Private Practice—“Rape is Rape”.

 

While at times it felt like Violet and Sheldon were reading from press releases regarding sexual assault in the military and the sexual assault of men (the episode was shot in partnership with RAINN, the Rape Abuse Incest National Network), you have to applaud Private Practice for being the most progressive of Shonda Rimes creations, what with last season’s rape of Charlotte and Addison’s speech about being one of only 1700 abortion providers in the United States.

Last night, Sheldon treated a soldier who’d been raped by his supervisor while on a tour of duty in the Middle East. There’s always stigma attached to male victims of sexual assault, and Rick questions his masculinity and his inability to fight his attacker off. As Sheldon says, “If a man doesn’t fight back, it makes him question whether he’s really a man.”

Rick hasn’t told his wife, Kelly, about his assault, but she knows he’s suffering from some kind of PTSD because he flinches at her touch and their sex life is non-existant.

When Rick finally gets the courage to confess what happened to Kelly, with Sheldon’s support, she pulls away from him, asking if he’s trying to tell her he’s gay because he didn’t escape the assault.

“How is that [being raped by one man] even possible? You’re a soldier,” Kelly marvels, as if the two are mutually exclusive. “Why didn’t you stop him?”

Selfishly, Kelly confesses to Sam, a friend of the family, that Rick is supposed to protect her; yeah, ’cause I’m sure that’s the first thing that ran through his mind when he was ambushed from behind and sodomised.

Credit to a show that is often overlooked in favour of its older sister show, Grey’s Anatomy (how else do you explain Seven pushing the show back to an 11:15 start time on a Thursday night? Some people have to work on Friday morning!), for a sensitive, realistic and non-judgemental portrayal of a not-often-discussed topic: male rape in the military.

Related: Top 11 TV Moments of 2011.

Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

Image via Pop Talk.

TV: Private Practice—Pro-Choice?

 

I’ve recently finished watching the latest series of Private Practice, the final of which aired here just over a month ago. The season dealt with the brutal rape of Dr. Charlotte King, about which you can read here and here, as well as the abortion debate that is raging across the world, but particularly in the U.S., with the rise of the über-conservative Tea Party, and 2012 presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann.

The second last episode of the season was said “abortion episode”. A woman named Patty came to see Dr. Addison Montgomery with pain, cramping and nausea after getting an abortion a month or two prior. When Addison does an ultrasound, she regrettably informs her patient that she’s still pregnant: the abortion didn’t take.

Patty’s foetus is now at 19 weeks, which would make the pregnancy in its second trimester, at which time an abortion is dubbed a “partial-birth abortion” by pro-lifers, as Dr. Naomi Bennett points out. Addison chides her for using political terminology, and that an abortion at 19 weeks is still perfectly legal, reiterating Patty’s right to choose, especially since she already made her decision the first time around several weeks ago.

Television and the media have a responsibility to present both sides of the story on such a contentious issue, even if they don’t live up to this most of the time. That’s why, when a show like Private Practice represents the abortion debate in such a refreshingly honest manner, it can be seen as revolutionary. (And it’s not the first time, either.) Not as revolutionary as Maude’s title character choosing to abort her unwanted pregnancy back in 1972, before the groundbreaking Roe VS. Wade decision, as this article points out, but still.

Naomi is a character I’ve never been a big fan of. She overreacts to everything (granted, overreaction may be warranted when your 16-year-old daughter gets pregnant and your best friend starts dating your ex-husband) and has a self-righteous, holier-than-thou attitude to most things, and her interference with Patty is no exception.

She uses her granddaughter Olivia to potentially guilt Patty into going ahead with her pregnancy, completely ignoring that Patty is single, after her deadbeat boyfriend took off when she told him she was pregnant, works two jobs, is poor, and is on her feet eight hours a day.

I had a real problem with this. Doctors should not push their personal beliefs on patients. If I were to fall pregnant tomorrow, I would be hitting up my nearest abortion clinic in a second, expecting to be given the care I’ve chosen, not to be lectured or threatened. As Addison says:

“… Even after you make the most difficult and personal decision that there is, it’s still not safe. Because you have some fanatic who claims to value life who can walk into an abortion clinic and blow it up.”

She continues:

“Why can’t Patty get what she needs, a safe and legal abortion without judgement?  Why does she have to go through this?  Why do I have to go through this?  I hate what I am about to do but I support Patty’s right to choose.  It is not enough to just have an opinion because in a nation of over 300 million people there are only 1700 abortion providers.  And I am one of them.”

The statistics are grim.

But, while trying to express the “pro-life” argument as well, Private Practice manages to remain pro-choice, which is no mean feat in the wake of reproductive rights being ripped from women across the world, and another PP, Planned Parenthood, being defunded en masse.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

Cristina Yang as Feminist.

Elsewhere: [New York Magazine] Emily Nussbaum on the Rape Episode of Private Practice.

[E! Online] The Morning After: Let’s Talk About Private Practice.

[Feminist in the City] Private Practice Tackles Abortion.

[Televisual] The Changing Economics of the TV Abortion.

[Fuck Yeah Choice] Just Keep Swimming: Abortion on Private Practice’s “God Bless the Child”.

[Dakota Women] And the Abortion Portrayal Award Goes to… Private Practice?

Images via Kate Walsh Fan.

TV: “Seattle Grace Mercy Death”—Grey’s Anatomy “Song Beneath the Song” Review.

 

It’s kind of hard to take the potential death of Callie and her unborn baby seriously when everyone’s singing, and in most cases, not well.

I wasn’t sure if I was delighted or perturbed by the announcement of a musical episode of Grey’s, and wondered how it would all go down.

(Un)luckily I didn’t have to wonder too long, as my friend Sallie spoiled it for me when we were discussing the show a couple of weeks ago. I was still catching up from re-watching all the seasons, and she asked me where I was up to in the latest season: “Callie’s accident?” No, but thanks! And when I accidentally looked up from my book in the final moments of last week’s episode before Desperate Housewives came on to find Callie and Arizona driving and talking, I put three and three together and figured there would be a car accident which would result in Callie’s supernatural musical experience, and voilà, you’ve got “Song Beneath the Song”. It’s like Glee meets Supernatural meets E.R. And not in a good way.

Some of the renditions, especially at the beginning of the episode, are cringeworthy, but Callie—played by Tony Award-winning actress, Sara Ramirez—and Owen (Kevin McKidd) put in performances that push the episode into watchable territory.

Grey’s Anatomy is known for its heartrending storylines and strong acting, and apart from the horrendous soundtrack, this episode is a good one: it’s touch and go with Callie’s survival and the life of her unborn baby, which Addison flies in to tend to when Lucy tanks it. (That doesn’t lessen her appeal to Alex, though!) Mark’s a mess, and tells Arizona she’s “nothing” in the parentage equation, and later apologises. Lexie comforts Mark, but still chooses Jackson. And Meredith breaks down over her desire to have a baby, when it happened so easily for Callie. And Owen’s singing ability just makes him hotter!

The one effective aspect I think the singing brought to the table was it acting as a metaphor for the mile-a-minute emotions everyone tending to Callie’s case was feeling. Sometimes the singing became very overwhelming, what with everything else going on in the scenes. But in the end, I think it worked to the shows advantage.

Now, let’s just sweep it under the rug and pretend it never happened.

Related: Top 10 Grey’s Anatomy Moments.

The Underlying Message in Grey’s Anatomy’s “Superfreak” Episode.

Gun Shot Wound to the Head: Grey’s Anatomy Season Final.

Images via MegaVideo.