A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The show portrays the medical field as a tough business that brings up difficult ethical dilemmas, and the takeaways are rarely black and white. That said, the stories showcase the heroic nature of most people in the medical profession. Themes include compassion and empathy. Many storylines also promote awareness of conditions like Alzheimer's, addiction, abortion, mental health issues, etc.
Positive Role Models
Most main characters are smart, ambitious, and dedicated to their jobs. They make mistakes and learn from them, aware that the stakes are high for their patients. Negative actions (cheating on partners, medical malpractice, etc.) usually bring about negative consequences, but not always right away.
The show revolves around a young White female doctor who starts off as a naive intern and eventually becomes the chief of surgery. The show has a diverse ensemble cast: Black women doctors are in leadership positions, intern classes often have more women than men, and women are often at the forefront of medical breakthroughs, though the color-blind casting of all of its main characters can feel simplistic, creating an impossible world where race and ethnicity do not affect characters' experiences. Interracial and queer relationships are featured and celebrated, and the show strives to feature well-rounded and non-stereotypical characters. Queer characters, including nonbinary people, aren't defined by being LGBTQ+, and people with disabilities, including doctors and patients, aren't defined by their physical or mental conditions.
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Violence & Scariness
Scenes aren't always graphic but are occasionally gory, involving surgeries, blood, critical injuries, and even death. Episodes deal with shootings, explosions, a plane crash, and other violent incidents.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
The show puts a lot of emphasis on the characters' personal relationships, many of which are sexual in nature. There's plenty of bed-hopping between co-workers, including same-sex pairings. While the characters kiss, embrace, and have implied sex, no sensitive body parts are shown.
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Language includes "ass," "damn," "sucks," "bitch," "oh my God," "what the hell," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Sobriety, addiction, and drug use are often brought up in storylines affecting main and side characters. Characters meet regularly at a local bar to de-stress after work. One character uses alcohol to the point that it negatively impacts his career, and he's temporarily suspended. But he eventually goes through rehab and makes positive changes.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Grey's Anatomy is a long-running primetime medical drama centered on Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her co-workers and friends who become family. The show is meant for an adult audience with adult themes, including sexual relationships among many of the show's characters, lots of blood and gore during surgeries, occasional violent incidents, and issues that affect many people around the country, such as gun violence, sexual assault, PTSD, and more. There's language along the lines of "bitch," "damn," and "what the hell," and characters -- though portrayed as empathetic and compassionate -- are flawed and often turn to alcohol to relieve stress. For adults and kids who like medical soap operas and can discuss the messages behind each episode, it's an excellent choice.
Is It Any Good?
The show's writers have proven that they're not above ridiculous plotlines involving ghost sex, doctors committing insurance fraud to save a child, or a man walking around with a bomb inside his body. But aside from the soapy storylines, what has hooked so many people on Grey's Anatomy since its release in 2005 is the complexity of its characters. So while Meredith is beautiful and smart, she's also remarkably flawed. As the series goes on, her story -- and those of her colleagues -- only deepen.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.