Doctors and Nurses and Sex...Oh My!!
by Melissa Minners
Last Thursday, I was watching Grey’s Anatomy (yes, I still watch Grey’s though lately, I’ve been wondering why) and I realized something. What if hospitals were truly run like Seattle Grace…or whatever it is they are calling the hospital on Grey’s Anatomy these days? When would anyone ever get treated? How would anyone’s lives be saved? How would medical discoveries ever be made? Since this is supposed to be a teaching hospital, I wonder how anyone learns anything other than anatomy.
What am I referring to, you may ask? Well, you would only ask that question if you haven’t watched Grey’s Anatomy. You see, the doctors, nurses, interns, etc. all seem to have quite intimate relationships…in the equipment closet, the on-call room, the basement…wherever they can. But I don’t mean to single out Grey’s Anatomy as the only medical drama in which this takes place. In fact, this has been taking place on television series for as far back as I can remember.
My first memories of intimate relationships implied or otherwise on a medical drama were on Trapper John, MD. Remember that show? Pernell Roberts was really more of a flirt than a sex toy. He left that up to Dr. “Gonzo” Gates (Gregory Harrison), youthful stud-muffin extraordinaire. The show aired from 1979 thru 1986 and was relatively clean. More risqué was St. Elsewhere, a show about a teaching hospital whose interns and residents were more intimate than most. Running through the early 1980s, the show was also not as risqué as it could have been.
Then came Nightingales, a 1989 television series about a group of student nurses at a teaching hospital. The show focused on five nursing students in particular, each one with some secrets in their past. This was one of the first shows in which sex took a front seat to the medical treatment at the hospital. Even the head nurse was involved in a love triangle of sorts. Nurses all over America complained about the show’s portrayal of their profession, calling for a boycott of the series. Several advertisers pulled out and the series was cancelled after thirteen episodes. A bit cheesy, but I kind of liked that show.
With the arrival of 1994, things changed in the medical drama format, taking on a more soap opera style. Two shows emerged at this time: E.R. and Chicago Hope. Chicago Hope followed the lives of the staff at a major hospital in Chicago. There was a major focus on the personal lives of the staff and their love lives. E.R. also took place in a teaching hospital, but focused on the members of the emergency room, both impersonal and veeerrry personal. E.R. outlasted Chicago Hope not only because of the great writing and cast, but the interesting relationships formed in that busy emergency room…and various other locales.
Now, I’ve been to hospitals, as a patient, a visitor or as someone accompanying another to the emergency room. I’ve been to teaching hospitals and regular hospitals. I’ve been to hospitals with crappy care and with great care. But I’ve never been to hospitals with staff getting it on in the next bed, in the utility closet, in the on-call room…or maybe I have and that would account for the hospitals offering crappy care. I mean, if the stuff portrayed on Grey’s Anatomy, et. al., really happens in hospitals, if hospital staff members are so busy involved in sexual situations every chance they can get, how does any actual medical treatment take place. Which really begs the question: are there really hospitals out there like Seattle Grace?