“Grey’s Anatomy” made its triumphant return to ABC’s TGIT lineup on Sept. 24. The gripping season 12 premiere finds Meredith (Ellen Pompeo), Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) and Maggie (Kelly McCreary) dealing with the newfound challenges of being roommates while Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) is struggling to find one in the wake of her split from Callie (Sara Ramirez). Meanwhile, Jackson (Jesse Williams) avoids questions surrounding April’s (Sarah Drew) return from the military. And a very important story runs in the background which shines some a light on a terrible kind of bullying.
Let’s cut to the chase. Despite negative criticism surrounding the season 11 finale and the way Derek Shepherd’s (Patrick Dempsey) death was handled in the storyline, “Grey’s Anatomy” came back stronger than ever in the moving season 12 premiere. Meredith is pushing forward, though struggling to keep the peace with Amelia, who takes a sledgehammer to a wall in Meredith’s house in an attempt to open up the space. Plus, Bailey (Chandra Wilson) falters in the race for Chief but then finally lands the job. Yay, Bailey!
While we hate to see Jackson and April split up, we can totally get where Jackson is coming from. April ran away after they lost their child and he was hurting too. He might have been able to forgive her if she hadn’t reenlisted. He gave her an ultimatum. If she left again, he wouldn’t be there for her when she returned. April returns and wants to talk. But Jackson resists. Are we really surprised?
From the looks of their tense interaction when they finally see each other, Jackson isn’t running straight into April’s arms. April just might have to prepare herself for the end of her marriage. We’re praying they stick it out. But, let’s face it. Relationships are hard to nurture and maintain and April hasn’t exactly given Jackson many reassurances.
Speaking of difficult relationships, GA Creator Shonda Rhimes penned a heartbreaking script with “Sledgehammer.” All of the doctors’ problems seem petty when two teenage girls are rushed into Grace Sloan Memorial after standing in front of a train to end their emotional suffering. All they want is the right to love each other and be in a relationship. But, they are both bullied at school and even worse, one of the girls’ parents wants to send her away to an anti-gay camp to try and “change her.” How horrifying is this?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013 suicide was the second leading cause of death for persons aged 15-24 and the third leading cause of death for children aged 10-14. CDC also reports LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning) youth are also at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, suicide attempts, and suicide. A nationally representative study of adolescents in grades 7–12 found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their heterosexual peers.
In light of recent Human Rights gains and the historic SCOTUS ruling to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, many people may naively think that LGBTQ bullying has become a thing of the past. We have certainly come a long way but this problem is far from being eradicated and Shonda Rhimes boldly addresses this awful truth in the “Grey’s Anatomy” season 12 premiere.
The fact that every human being craves unconditional love and acceptance is a universal truth. And it may be cliché to say there is a fine line between love and hate. But it’s true and as such, those who love us (or are supposed to love us) the most are often the ones to hurt us the most. Such is the case for young Jessica. Her parents want to send her to a conversion camp to try to force her to be straight. The sad thing is Jessica’s mom is pushing it and her dad does nothing to stop his wife with her evil, malicious intentions.
On top of that, Jessica and Aliyah are bullied at school, too. It is one horrific thing to be persecuted by total strangers and peers and something entirely different to suffer hatred, judgement and disdain from your family. A family is supposed to offer unconditional love, guidance and support. Parents are supposed to be a “safe” place for kids, a port in the storm to shield them from harm. Too many LBGTQ kids are judged and shunned by family members, often in the name of religion.
Ultimately, we need to love and accept each other for who we are. We need to fight for equality and the common good at all costs. We need embrace each other’s differences and not be afraid to raise our voice against social or emotional injustice. In the end, it all comes down to how we love. It’s not about who we love; but more about what kind of energy we put out into the world.
Unfortunately, some kids who are tortured or bullied for their size, stature, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or a myriad of other things buckle under the weight of it all. So, they take their own lives in an attempt to ease their pain. Child and teen suicide rates are still alarmingly high. We need to do something to fight this problem and Shonda Rhimes should be commended for using the highly-influential television platform to raise awareness.
Thankfully in this story, Callie stands up to Jessica’s mom, Maggie punches her in the face and Jessica’s dad finally sees the light. He loves his daughter enough to understand that her anguish must run deep if she resorts to standing in front of a train to ease her pain. He tells his wife if she tries to send their daughter away, he’ll leave her and take Jessica away from her too. Hopefully, this episode will resonate with viewers who are struggling with similar issues. Thank you, Shonda Rhimes for being fearless enough to try and open our eyes.
Throughout the episode, bits of backstory are revealed for some of our favorite characters. For instance, Alex tells Jo he used to be fat and kids picked on him until he lost weight and learned to stand up for himself. Maggie was also picked on for being small, smart and having a lisp. It feels good to know that all of these doctors overcame their troubled childhood and turned out to be caring, accomplished doctors. Maggie is adorable, by the way and is definitely burrowing her way into our hearts. Who else wants a sister just like her?
No one is without flaws and Shonda Rhimes remains a master at revealing the dark and twisty places inside her characters too, which ultimately makes them more human and more endearing. What will become of Jackson and April? Do they stand a chance at making it? Is Bailey going to rise to the challenge of being Chief? Will Meredith, Maggie and Amy find a way to co-exist? Will Amy and Owen (Kevin McKidd) finally give in and take a chance on love? How hot was that kiss, anyway?
Overall, season 12 of “Grey’s Anatomy” is off to a wonderful start. We’re completely invested and hungry for more. Thank. God. It’s. Thursday. Seriously. “Grey’s Anatomy” airs on ABC on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET/7C.
If you are feeling alone, thinking about suicide and need someone to talk to please call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 for help. Lines are open 24/7 and it’s free, and confidential. Visit the Trevor Project website for more information and for ways to get involved in helping The Trevor Project’s crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth ages 13-24.