Post by Allan Heinberg on the Grey’s Writer Blog

We were interested in exploring the somewhat counterintuitive idea that by accepting our own – and other people’s – limitations, we actually allow ourselves to experience life as it’s really happening – to appreciate it on its own terms, rather than to constantly measure it against impossible expectations.

In the “limitations” draft, Meredith, crippled by the emotionally abusive parenting she received from Ellis and Thatcher, had serious doubts about her ability to be anyone’s mother.  But by essentially parenting Alex and his brother, Aaron, throughout the episode, Meredith discovered she might not make such a terrible mom after all.

Alex knew he could never bring himself to return to Iowa to become his family’s full-time caretaker again, but he was able to help Aaron in his own limited way.  He did get his brother a free surgery, after all.  And ultimately Alex was surprised to realize that all Aaron really wanted – in fact, the only reason he even came to Seattle – was to reconnect with his brother again.  And that much, Alex could do.

Also in the course of the first draft, Cristina came up against her own limitations trying to communicate with and care for Owen as he continues to suffer from PTSD.

Mark and Teddy found themselves limited by not being able to be with the people they truly loved.  However, by finally admitting to the unspoken truth that they’re both in love with other people, they were actually able to take some comfort in one another.

Lexie, Richard, April, and Derek were forced to come to terms with the limitations of medicine – as well as the emotional limitations dictated by their profession.

And Callie and Arizona finally had to question whether or not their romantic partnership can survive their own — and each other’s — limitations.  Callie wants to have a child.  Arizona doesn’t.

Even on a metaphorical level, Meredith spends the episode parenting Alex.  As does Bailey, for that matter.  Alex spends the episode trying to parent Aaron without completely losing himself in the past and his family’s dysfunction.  And if you extend the metaphor further, Richard parents Lexie through the rigors of having to take her patient off life-support.  Bailey parents Callie on the subject of having children.  Teddy parents Cristina in the O.R. and in her personal life with Owen.  When viewed through the thematic prism of parenthood, I was suddenly seeing examples of it throughout the episode.  Anytime the doctors of Seattle Grace-Mercy West helped each other, taught each other, cared for each other, they were parenting.  They were raising one another.  Which seems appropriate.  Seattle Grace-Mercy West is a teaching hospital, after all.

I couldn’t help but appreciate the irony that an episode about limitations transcended its own theme and organically became an episode about parenthood, a miraculous process by which people transcend their own limitations and discover there’s absolutely no limit to the amount of love it’s possible to feel for another person.

Dating.  Dating is a lot of things.  Fun.  Exhilarating.  Exciting.  Breathtaking.


Occasionally, maybe.  But usually it’s miserable.  It’s a freakshow.  A slog.  Punishment for killing children in a past life, perhaps.  It sucks.  Your heart, your hopes, your dreams, all projected onto some hapless wretch on the other side of the table, who’s using the drink menu to pick his teeth.

Dating is best left to the young.  The young and the optimistic, who can ride their optimism through the countless dinners at Italian restaurants required to zero in on a life partner.  Unfortunately, the young ain’t the ones doing it anymore.  Grown men and women, people who waved goodbye to their twenties long ago, are dating.  They’re divorced.  Or they wanted to focus on their careers before they worried about marriage and family.  They’re grown ups, and they’re sitting in Italian restaurants across the land, talking about their childhoods, and their rock climbing, and how they wish they had more time to cook.

Mark Sloan.  Miranda Bailey.  These are not people who ever thought they’d have to have the conversation over pasta.  Bailey married young.  Dating for her was milkshakes in high school.  Movies.  Bowling.  And Mark… well, we know what it was for Mark.  It was a lot of women, over a lot of years, and it was, shall we say, aerobic.  So all this crap about getting to know each other, and figuring out how to get close to a perfect stranger is baffling.  Bailey’s forgotten all the rules.  Mark never knew them in the first place.  It’s a nightmare.

Now, if you have to date, you should date Jason George.  He’s the amazing and terribly hot actor who plays Ben, and the fact is, while I have great sympathy for grown women who have to start dating after years of marriage, it’s not easy to muster up all that much sympathy for Bailey when she’s dating freaking Jason George.  But I try.  And Mark, well, him I really do feel sorry for, because this isn’t his thing.  He’s a ragingly confident man.  But he’s never had to play this game.  He’s never trolled for a wife before, he’s trolled for… you know… but not for the mother of his children.  And yet he goes for it.  He tries.  He’s so earnest.  And so nervous.  And nobody believes him.  Teddy can’t imagine that he’s someone you take seriously.  So nothing makes me happier than seeing him, at the end of the episode, just melt her with talk of an aggressively unromantic lunch date.  He grows.  He wins.  And he deserves to.  Bailey?  She wins too.  Jason George is cooking her dinner.  And kissing her.  That’s the definition of a win win situation.  I guess that’s the moral of the story.  Dating sucks, but if you can survive it, sometimes nice things happen after.

I want to talk about Callie for a minute, and how lovely it is that she’s suddenly the one who has her act together.  She’s the grown up.  She’s not the freak, sleeping in the basement and getting her heart slammed.  She’s the authority.  Mark wants her help.  Bailey wants her advice.  And she’s good at it.  It’s lovely.  For the three seconds before Arizona tells her that they don’t have the same vision of the future.  But until then… it’s so nice.  I’m so happy for her.  She’s suddenly at peace in her own skin.

That’s the problem.  Surgeons are achievers.  Over-achievers.  And they’re used to being successful.  But you can’t win at every game, no matter who you are.  Seeing them wander outside their comfort zones… it’s so very painful.  But the beauty is, they try.  They push.  They attack.  Comfortable or not.  Confident or not.  They push.  And slowly… slowly… they grow.

Read the rest of the entry on the Grey’s writer blog to learn about Chandra Wilson directing the episode and more of the drama between the chief and Derek

It must have been those chickens getting loose but the team bonding sure had some impact on the Heroes as they scalp the villains in a first to eight sumo/bag challenge in a clean sweep.  It’s humiliating.

With such an emphatic win to the Heroes, the villains retire to camp to start the inevitable process of cutting one of their own.  Do they go with the weakest player on the team or do they get rid of one of the biggest threats?

You would think that after some of them have played this game two or three times that they would have learnt by now that unless you remove the threat, you put yourself in the difficult situation of having to deal with some very crafty and devious players later off who, like an unwanted mosquito, can be incredibly difficult to get rid of and keep turning up when you don’t want to feast on your blood.

Tribal council proves that the majority still haven’t learnt this lesson and poor old Randy is extinguished from the game.

If there’s one thing I hate watching in shows like survivor it’s seeing people who are physically strong getting hammered by the elements and the environment.  Seeing Boston Rob have a spell of unconsciousness must have sent chills through the villains camp as the reality of the environment they find themselves in impacts their very lives.  How cool must it have been though to come back from that and win the immunity challenge?

While the villains have to deal with nearly losing the very person who seems to be pulling their tribe together, the heroes seem to be falling apart.  It’s embarrassing.

For the second week in a row the Heroes get their asses handed to them at the immunity challenge because they just can’t get it together and work together as a team.  James just wants to win but first they’re going to have to sort out their various differences and stop pulling in multiple directions.

Tribal Council airs a lot of laundry. James goes on the attack and lets Stephanie know that he’s no fan of hers but Tom rallies to her defense.  It’s not pretty.

Stephanie quickly learns that James isn’t the only one who thought lowly of her as her torch is extinguished and she becomes the second person booted off the island.

I admit, I have a bit of an obsession with Richard… an addiction, if you will.

He’s always just so suave, always so collected, and always, cool. SO MANY people have asked me what is to become of him now that he’s drinking again. I only hope this episode serves to address at least some of your many concerns about the Chief.

We had always talked about doing a flashback episode, and from day one, Season One, Shonda has emphasized that Richard and Ellis got together at least partially because of the fact that they were the only black and the only woman resident in their class.

Being outcasts, they were naturally drawn to each other (and passion did the rest). They were residents in the early 80’s and of course the BIG thing about the early 80’s was that weird new disease they eventually called AIDS.

I think one of the most chilling lines in the episode is when Young Richard says, “They could find a cure for this tomorrow, or next week,” because you know he probably really believed it… and here we sit 18 years later with no cure.

What better case to highlight Richard and Ellis and their irresistible draw to each other. There was nothing that could keep them apart, and a patient like this, who was an outcast himself, could only pull them even closer together.

As one of the crew members put it, what a cool way to tackle racism, sexism, and homophobia in one fell swoop! Side note: It was so fun to recreate 1982! The crew worked SO HARD to make this happen and did an AMAZING job.

How great was it to see the Richard/Ellis dynamic? Ellis was a force to contend with. Shall we say she was … a “maneater?” There were basically two categories that were prevalent among female surgical residents in those days: feminine, or macho.

I’ll give you one guess as to which one Ellis was.

She was a surgeon first and only incidentally female. She put her defenses up against any challenge to the way she thought the world should be, and lashed out when her plan was interrupted. Is it any wonder Meredith ended up so dark and twisty?

But it’s not all about 1982. We also get to see Richard as he became Bailey’s mentor, helping to shape little Mandy Bailey into the Miranda Bailey we see today … and the Richard we saw in 2006 makes Callie shake in her shoes a little bit.

It’s exciting every week to see exactly what the Grey’s writer behind the last aired episode has to say about how it all came together and what the inspirations were during the writing process. This week it was Valentine’s Day, and we know it’s not all about chocolate and romance in the halls of Seattle Grace (though some of those things made an appearance) and here’s what William Harper had to say about it Meredith and Derek, Lexi and Mark and some of the other drama. Read the complete entry on the Grey’s writers blog

The romance can get a little dark and twisty around Seattle Grace.  It’s never going to be candlelight and roses.  Derek can’t get three blocks on a date with his wife without being paged back for a mass casualty.   But honestly, that was the fun of writing this episode; finding all the ways of illuminating romance.

here’s the tale of unrequited love between Emile and Mrs. Banks, for one.  And Meredith and Alex get sucked in like it’s a chick flick.  Will he?  Won’t he?  Will she?  I think the romance is not just in Emile’s unrequited pining, but in the warmth and comfort that Mrs. Banks has found in decades of marriage to her husband.  I think everything she says to Meredith is true.  Finding the right person, being with them, knowing them so well – and being known — is romantic.  That’s what Meredith has signed up for, on that post-it note.  But it’s still a scary proposition.  And with the new pressures Derek is facing as Chief, Meredith’s suddenly faced with the question of how she’s reinvented herself in this marriage.  Will it limit her going after her passion, the thing that makes her HER?  And she’s faced with deciding how much she’ll commit to the role, how she’ll allow herself to be defined by it.  In the end, she learns that a marriage, like life, is a constant reinvention.  You choose, over and over again to adapt to each other and with each other, always being clear on what you will and won’t give up to accommodate the other.   Change, adaptation, is what keeps a marriage stable in an unstable world.

I think Derek’s scene in the scrub room with April may be my favorite example of reinvention in the episode, because, to me, it’s the point when Derek becomes the Chief he would want to be, bringing all his compassion and experience to lead and teach.  Despite that, this transition to Chief isn’t going to be easy, professionally or personally.  In the end, they’ll face the struggle together.  Move forward, find a new shape.  That in itself is pretty romantic.

Two reinventions I particularly like, because they’re so different, are Lexie’s and Mark’s.  Lexie’s is blatant, and sudden and shocking:  NEW HAIR.   New hair is a safe change, because it’s just gonna grow back.  Lexie’s not really committed.  She didn’t do something bold and permanent, like a neck tattoo (I’m not endorsing this, either).  She made the safe change. She’s made a change that’s only skin deep, and temporary. And Jackson calls her on it.  (I love that Jackson reveals this by admitting he was treated as the pretty, dumb one.  And had to reinvent himself).

The other reinvention – Mark’s – I love because it’s building over time.  It culminates when he steps up to adopt his newborn grandchild.  In an instant. In a blurt.  He’s wanted a child since we met him – Addison’s —  but he’s spent the time since then maturing — from man-whore to monogamist, to responsible father to Sloan, then committing to adopt and raise a newborn baby — to the point where we really want one for him:  He’s grown up a lot.

Teddy (And Owen) are trying to do maybe the most difficult reinvention of all: to go backward.  What I love about her speech to Owen in the scrub room, is that, not only is it an act of forcing him to acknowledge their friendship, but that we learn so much in that speech about the level of camaraderie and intimacy they shared as friends in the Army.

Next week’s episode, in fact, will give you a glimpse of a Seattle Grace you’ve never seen before, and some stories of our doctors that you never knew happened, even if you’ve been watching from the beginning.  It’s an exhilarating, funny and really moving episode.  So see you back here, then.

survivor: Heroes vs Villains

It’s been a while since I watched a full season of Survivor and I have to admit, I’ve missed it.

What better place to pick it back up again though than with the 20th season of the hit show that has been running for ten years.  Can you believe it?

While previous Survivors have had Outwit, Outplay and Outlast as the theme for the series, Survivor: Heores vs Villains is all about Return, Revenge and Redemption.

The teams:

The Heroes:
Jessica ‘Sugar’ Kiper (Gabon)
Rupert Boneham (Pearl Islands & All Stars)
James Clement (China & Micronesia)
Colby Donaldson (The Australian Outback & All Stars)
Cirie Fields (Panama & Micronesia)
Amanda Kimmel (China & Micronesia)
Stephanie LaGrossa (Palau & Guatemala)
James ‘J.T.’ Thomas Jr (Tocantins)
Tom Westman (Palau)
Candice Woodcock (Cook Islands)

The Villains:
Tyson Apostol (Tocantins)
Randy Bailey (Gabon)
Sandra Diaz-Twine (Pearl Islands)
Danielle DoLorenzo (Panama)
Russel Hantz (Samoa)
Jerri Manthey (The Australian Outback & All Stars)
Rob ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano (Marquesas & All Stars)
Parvati Shallow (Cook Islands & Micronesia)
Benjamin ‘Coach’ Wade (Tocantins)
Courtney Yates (China)

It was always going to be great at the first challenge.  The villains smashed the heroes, quite literally.  Stephanie came away with a dislocated shoulder which had to be popped back into place by the medics while Rupert broke a toe.  Despite all the injuries, the heroes won and walked off to find their new home with the reward of flint.  Not that it mattered for the villains who were able to start a fire anyway when Boston Rob rubbed some sticks together.

The heroes caught some chickens at camp and built their shelter and pretty much went about setting up camp as a team.

When the two tribes came together for the first immunity challenge, the Heroes took an impressive lead but quickly lost it when they weren’t able to complete the puzzle.  The villains over took them, won the challenge, effectively sending the Heroes to tribal council.

Russell was very happy to have put the heroes into the position where they had to be the villains.

At tribal council, Sugar was the first survivor to be voted off the island.


Next week looks dramatic.  Boston Rob appears to have lost consciousness as the medics are called in.  The preview saw Boston Rob’s eyes rolled back into his head.  Doesn’t look good!

What did you think of the premiere to the 20th season of Survivor?

On Derek and Meredith and their personal and professional trials

Derek is now Chief!  Actually he’s just the interim Chief but the way he went about getting there is what I’d like to start with.  Richard is drinking again.  Richard is a recovering alcoholic who’s been sober a long time and the fact that he’s drinking again … Derek feels torn, between supporting his old friend and wanting to protect the hospital from a man who’s fallen off the wagon. At the beginning of the episode we see that Derek has realized that in order to be a friend to Richard, he has to go to the Board.   Because along with the drinking comes the lies and the poor judgment.  This is about more that just a friend who is struggling with sobriety, it’s about the hospital, people’s lives …  Meredith sees it differently.  She says the Chief was drinking but promised Meredith he would stop.  And she trusts him, he wouldn’t lie to her.  And, more importantly, she didn’t confide to Derek the surgeon about Richard’s drinking, she confided to Derek her husband.  There have to be lines drawn, boundaries … and when Meredith screams, “Post it!”  Derek backs down.  The post it wins, so Derek her husband urges her to at least think about what’s best for the hospital.

What I love about this scene, besides the fact that the actors played it brilliantly, is that it shows how they’ve matured.  This is a real grown-up argument.  Meredith isn’t running away, getting all dark and going to Cristina for help getting out of her marriage.  She’s staying and fighting.  Professional/personal boundaries are tricky to negotiate for couples who work together (I should know since my writing partner is also my husband, hi Tony) and Shonda really wanted to see our couples be couples this year.  Grow, mature, try to be happy.  We really want to show that struggle, that in the midst of the ugly argument, you can still love the person and find them sexy, which is why I loved it that Derek got all turned on by Meredith in the course of the argument.

On the situation with the chief

Now … the scene where Derek pours Richard a drink.  We talked about that scene a lot.  Derek doesn’t trust Richard and now Richard is going into a very difficult surgery and he’s bringing Meredith with him.  And promising her a procedure that Bailey says she’s not ready to do.  Derek can’t let that happen.  So he goes and confronts Richard.  Tempts him.  He pours the drink and dares Richard not to drink it.  It’s a little bit cruel, but Derek feels that it’s justified, in the scene where he asks Owen what he should do.  Owen gives him the go ahead, if someone’s fighting dirty, it’s okay to fight back dirty as long as you’re doing it for the greater good.  And when Derek leaves Richard’s office it’s like both he and Richard know Richard is powerless over the alcohol.  Derek is saying he sees Richard.  Richard may be able to fool Meredith, but Derek sees him.  And Derek now knows what he has to do.  He has to convince Meredith to go to the Board.  And so he tells her that if he becomes Chief he’ll hire back Izzie.  He makes her choose between Izzie and the Chief.

About the episode theme of ambition

The theme of this episode was exposure but when I watched it being shot I realized it was really about ambition. Derek wants to be Chief; Meredith wants to do a procedure that she knows she isn’t ready for; Cristina wants Teddy to stay.  Years ago I was trying to be an actor and I remember one day in acting class we were talking about a character’s motivation and my acting teacher said there are really only two things that motivate people:  sex and ambition.   Every choice can be boiled down to one or the other. I remember being really struck by that and I’ve thought about it over the years, and in a way I believe it. I mean, of course we do things for other reasons — we do things for our kids because we love them, and if you’re like me you do things out of guilt.  And for donuts.   But when Derek and Meredith lay in bed at the end of the episode and she says she understands why Derek did what he did, she doesn’t like it but she gets it.  She’s ambitious too.  It’s bittersweet and true.  I like that.  It was a crappy day.  She didn’t like what Derek did.  But she’s here, in bed, telling him.  She’s a grown up.

About Cristina and Owen and Izzie and Alex

What else … oh yeah, Cristina.  Cristina blurts out that she’d choose surgery over Owen.  Which, let’s face it, is very Cristina.  When we were first discussing this story we had a knock down drag out fight in the writers’ room – if you had to choose your love or your art, which would you choose?  And some of us came down on the Cristina side, and some of us came down on the Izzie side – that in the end love is all that matters.  Cristina felt in that moment, faced with Teddy leaving, that she couldn’t have both, she had to choose.  And she chose surgery.  Because it’s who she is.  And without surgery, without becoming the absolute best surgeon she can be, Cristina feels that she would cease to be herself.  It’s only in that moment in the surgery on the opera singer when Teddy chooses to risk his life in order to save his art that Cristina realizes that for all of her shock and judgment, Teddy gets her.  And Cristina is unwilling to keep apologizing for who she is.

And speaking of struggle … Alex and Izzie.  He tells her he’s done.  Izzie getting the clean scan back gives Alex the freedom to leave.  Because he never would have left her when she was sick, he’s a good guy.  And I’m not saying that Alex ever consciously thought, I can’t leave her while she’ s sick, but now that she’s not, now that she seems like she’s going to get better, it just comes to him.  He deserves more.  He’s a good guy and he deserves more.  We talked about the fact that Alex grew up in a pretty dysfunctional family and he was probably in a lot of bad relationships where he wasn’t a good guy, so he had come to believe it.  But loving Izzie showed him that he can be good, is good.  So it was a little gift.  And when he tells Izzie he’s done, he’s not bitter or angry, he’s just done.  Justin Chambers plays Alex and there’s not a sweeter guy on the planet so it’s always been funny to me how well he plays an asshole.  But I like that we get to see more depth in Alex.

Read more about the writer’s take on this episode on the Grey’s Anatomy writer’s blog, including the situation wiith Mark and Lexi, Callie and Arizona and more.

Viewers got a dose of the sixth and final season of NIP/TUCK when the controversial and award-winning series premiered last night at 10 p.m. ET/PT on /A\ (visit to confirm local broadcast times). Continuing Sundays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on /A\, the Emmy® and Golden Globe® award-winning drama comes to a close as successful and charismatic plastic surgeons Sean McNamara (Dylan Walsh, The Stepfather) and Christian Troy (Julian McMahon, Fantastic Four) struggle with their practice in Beverly Hills amidst a crumbling economy. Guest stars this season include Gilles Marini (BROTHERS & SISTERS), Joan Rivers and Melanie Griffith (Now and Then). Rose McGowan (CHARMED) joins the cast as Teddy and recurring guest star Mario Lopez (RANDY JACKSON PRESENTS AMERICA’S BEST DANCE CREW) appears as Dr. Mike Hamoui.

The final season of NIP/TUCK premieres January 10 on /A\

Also starring John Hensley (AS THE WORLD TURNS), Roma Maffia (BOSTON LEGAL), Kelly Carlson (Made of Honor) and Joely Richardson (The Last Mimzy), the critically acclaimed and edgy medical drama explores the dark side of plastic surgery and the painful – sometimes violent – lengths people will go to in their quest for external beauty. Premiering in 2003, NIP/TUCK has been nominated for 16 Emmy® Awards, winning for Outstanding Makeup in 2004. It also received two Golden Globe® nominations, winning for Best Television Drama in 2005.

In this week’s episode, “Enigma” (Sunday, January 17 at 10 p.m. ET/PT), Christian and Kimber start doing business together. Meanwhile, Sean is struggling to find a way to fix his insomnia.

In Episode 3, “Briggitte Reinhart” (Sunday, January 24 at 10 p.m. ET/PT), Sean (Dylan Walsh) and Teddy (Rose McGowan, CHARMED) make a surprising announcement. Sean discovers some troubling news about his daughter, Annie (recurring guest star Kelsey Lynn Batelaan, 8 SIMPLE RULES FOR DATING MY TEENAGE DAUGHTER) and a patient dies – but who is at fault?

All season long, the Yellow and Blue teams went hammer to hammer in a competition to best design, construct and decorate a brand new home on the Citytv original series, My RONA Home.  Citytv viewers tuned in each week and voted for their favourites online at and by phone. The results were revealed on the exciting season finale of My RONA Home which aired Sunday, December 6 on Citytv.  The Blue Team – Krystle Cottrell and Vernon McCarty – were announced as the winners and were awarded their home complete with furnishings valued at $400,000.  As runner-ups, the Yellow Team was given the opportunity to purchase the home they worked on with the down payment provided by RONA.

Krystle Cottrell and Vernon McCarty met five years ago on a blind date and have been together ever since. Prior to My RONA Home they lived in Airdrie, Alberta with their 20-month old son Aeneas.  Krystle, a native Calgarian, works part time at a spa, while Vernon, originally from Saint John, NB, is a sprinkler system installer. The couple chose to take part in the My RONA Home challenge, because they thought the experience would bring them closer as a family, and bring them one step further to achieving their many dreams.