We noted yesterday yet another shitstorm brewing behind (and in front of) the scenes of ABC's Grey's Anatomy, as a still shell-shocked Brooke Smith told EW.com about her character's abrupt dismissal from the series. She plays Dr. Erica Hahn—who, it's worth noting, replaced Isiah Washington's ejected character as head of cardiothorasic surgery—and who had recently embarked upon a McLesbiany relationship with Callie, played by Sara Ramirez. It began with a sweet kiss, but soon after the writers took it further, with dialogue about exploring "undiscovered country," and at least one postcoital monologue on the joys of ladyfruit harvesting (above). The relationship—what AfterEllen points out is the only depiction of a lesbian couple currently on primetime TV—was developing rapidly. Now Smith has been informed, in the vaguest terms, that her character won't be returning to Seattle Grace after this week's episode. She explains:
SMITH: I was very excited when they told me that Erica and Callie were going to have this relationship. And I really hoped we were going to show what happens when two women fall in love and that they were going to treat it like any heterosexual couple on TV.... I was floored when they told me [I was being let go]. It was the last thing I expected. In fact, when they told me I asked, "When is this happening?" And they said, "The [next episode] is your last," which is the one that airs this Thursday. So it was very sudden. [...] EW: Who broke the news to you? [Creator] Shonda Rhimes. I'm hearing that this wasn't her decision, but rather ABC's. You know, I have to tell you, I got that feeling. I don't know for sure, but it definitely seemed like [Shonda's] hands were tied. That was just my gut. Did she seem upset? She did seem upset. I wasn't having a very good week that week. I was like, "Oh, God, what is it with this business?!" And she said, "No, no, no. You are such a great actress. We love you." It seemed like some decision came down from above. It didn't feel like it was her.
Rhimes has since issued the following statement:
"Brooke Smith was obviously not fired for playing a lesbian. Clearly it's not an issue as we have a lesbian character on the show – Calliope Torres. Sara Ramirez is an incredible comedic and dramatic actress and we wanted to be able to play up her magic. Unfortunately, we did not find that the magic and chemistry with Brooke's character would sustain in the long run. The impact of the Callie/Erica relationship will be felt and played out in a story for Callie. I believe it belittles the relationship to simply replace Erica with 'another lesbian.' If you'll remember, Cristina mourned the loss of Burke for a full season."
E! Online, meanwhile, reports that "insiders connected to the ABC series [are saying] that some of the gay-themed storylines are being downplayed and even erased from upcoming scripts." That includes a new character, played by Melissa George, who was initially conceived as a potential Callie love interest, but who's now been downgraded to some lightly bisexual flirtation, with an inevitable embracing of her McPenis-loving side during a steamy encounter in a hospital broom closet. And all this, on election day, of all days. Great timing, ABC! What are you waiting for, T.R. Knight and Katherine Heigl? We'd like some on-camera outrage, and we'd like it now.