During the 2006–7 television season, the production team and cast for Grey’s Anatomy (2005–) dealt with a series of unfortunate industry events that significantly affected the writers’ room, cast, and ongoing story lines of the show. An actor uttered a homophobic slur, which received wide media coverage, and which ultimately led Grey’s Anatomy to create a compelling, true-to-life lesbian story line.
This essay examines the discourse surrounding these events, including news reports and audience reaction to the story lines developed in response to the scandal. The LGBT fan community I examine here is Erica_Callie, a LiveJournal (LJ) community, which was highly active during the 2008–9 TV season, with over 1,800 individual posts and tens of thousands of comments.
The production response to real-life events relies on underlying production-culture knowledge of media concepts, such as authenticity, audience identification, and emotional realism, as a remedy for the damage inflicted by the scandal on both the show and the affected LGBT audience. The development of the lesbian story line in Grey’s Anatomy was an act of industry public relations; the story line was constructed to develop and resonate with LGBT audiences.
Zuk, Tanya D. 2017. “Coming Out on Grey’s Anatomy: Industry Scandal, Constructing a Lesbian Story Line, and Fan Action.” In “Queer Female Fandom,” edited by Julie Levin Russo and Eve Ng, special issue, Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 24.