Last night's Private Practice saw the doctors of Oceanside Wellness dealing with the immediate aftermath of the rape of one of their colleagues. It's a subject a lot of TV dramas have tackled before. So how'd it do?
Well, let's just say that the bar for dealing with the subject of rape on prime time television has been raised pretty damn high. Usually rape is left to two television camps: crime procedurals and Lifetime. The former takes rape and uses it as a means to punish a bad guy or to showcase the softer side of the (usually) female cop who is the only one who can relate to the (usually) female victim. The latter? Well, I'll just let this clip explain exactly what you already know the latter does.
[There was a video here]
Now, aside from the obvious Emmy reel fodder, last night's episode worked as more than just a publicity stunt or a P.S.A. Between this and the mass-shooting storyline over at Grey's, it's clear that Shonda Rhimes is exploring trauma, how it changes people and how they deal with those changes in a way that's not just entertaining, but honest. Hardly any music played for the entire hour, and every character was immediately confronted with one demon or another, whether that be their own insecurities about their relationships, how they deal with trauma, and even that prescription drug problem us the viewer completely forgot about. It was a game-changer alright, one that proved that I may just a big sucker for anything with that's preceded by the words "Tonight, on a very special episode of." But I'm going to give myself and every other Private Practice fan who loved last night's episode the benefit of the doubt and say that it was just a really good episode. So, thank Shonda Rhimes for writing it, thank KaDee Strickland for that performance, or thank the good people over at RAINN for working with the Private Practice team on this. No matter who takes the credit it still feels good knowing that TV—even TV as deliciously tacky as these ABC medical dramedies—can still tackle a subject as important and as serious as this one without trivializing it, resorting to a million cliches, or milking it for shock value.