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'Gray's Anatomy': How Shonda's Rhimes Fought ABC Over Powerful Consent Episode



Gray's Anatomy, "Silent All These Years."]

Moved by Christine Blasey Ford's testimony against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Gray's Anatomy Named after a Tori Amo's song, "Silent All These Years," the hour featured one of the most in-depth depictions of exactly how a rape kit is administered. Gray's Anatomy All-star Elisabeth Finch – ABC's Standards and Practices department.

The Hollywood Reporter, [1969004] Finch and showrunner Krista Vernoff Shona Rhodes pushed back and "declined" the network's notes. Who was carted off to surgery. Gray's Anatomy Writers and Shondaland executives, an incredible show of support, if ever, seen before on a hospital drama.

To hear Vernoff and Finch tell it, the episode was born out of the latter's WGA-sponsored trip to UCLA's Rape Treatment Center A kit to rape victims.

The episode ̵

1; The rare Gray's The first of the Kavanaugh hearings and suggested that her character, Jo, be the product of rape. Jo's biological mother (guest star Michelle Forbes) who, as Gray's diehards recall, abandoned her at a fire station.

Below, Vernoff and Finch open the Genesis for the episode, how the "talk" about consent between Ben (Jason George) and his stepson, Tuck (BJ Tanner), is already inspiring others and the amazing women who are in that powerful hallway scene.

Where did the idea of ​​this episode come from?

Vernoff: Many places. I was directing to episode and the Christine Blasey Ford testimony happened and the Kavanaugh confirmation happened. I felt that through my whole body – the way a lot of women did. She got up and told her truth and a lot of pundits questioned whether she knew what she was talking about or if she could have believed or remembered the face of someone who attacked her years ago. It's a pretty powerful moment to watch all that. I felt that the most damaging thing was happening that was irrelevant. I do not approach storytelling through issues; we usually approach through character. But I wrote to the writers and said, "We have to find a way to get through this character damage people for years, decades and generations. " We had to use our platform to do something. The same day, I got an email from Camilla, who was crying at home [amid the hearings] and who felt like we had to do something. She said, "I know we're introducing Jo's mother this season." What if Jo is a product of rape? " I said yes immediately. I reached out to Finchie and said, "I heard a pitch you had some time ago that included an army of awesome women lining the hallways for a rape survivor." Can you tell me more about that? " And Finchie told me the following …

Finch: Three years ago, the WGA certainly asked if they wanted to go to UCLA's Rape Treatment Center in Santa Monica. It's world renowned. I could've possibly been on TV. Each one of them comes in the door. It's something that has been sitting in me for years and I wanted to do it. Sometimes the stars and the people are doing what they are – and they are doing the opportunity to tell them something.

Vernoff: They pitched me this imagining that they had a bunch of women lining up for a survivor. I said to please make an hour of television that is that and Jo's origin story. Finchie had been, at the time, child of discouraged from this story – as if the aftermath of rape was not in itself. Finchie kept trying to make it smaller; I said it was the whole hour. She wanted to do the whole hour but had been told that it was not dramatic enough. The stars aligned and the moment was right.

Elisabeth, who told you no about this story?

Finch: It's not a matter of being told no. My brain thinks in photographs and then my writer brain thinks about how to tell the story and I try to figure out the narrative behind it. Because they've got something wrong, they've got to fix it all. I think sometimes it's hard to imagine how much it can. Normally our characters are going through something in their medical lives and then it reflects on their personal lives. When you're dealing with sexual assault issues, it's really hard to go back and be like, "Well, who should I be dating?" It was hard to figure out what to do with it. With Camilla pitching this, it all felt like, "I get why it's and why now and why this." It felt like the best timing of it. Watching Krista straight to episode while all these things were coming up with the Kavanaugh hearings and watching her a powerful leader through all that – despite her own feelings and all of the feelings of everyone on the same time-really helped me understand and see an example of how you can do all the feelings and carry them and therefore lead. That's where Jo is today. She's Carrying All This Collective Pain, Making Her Mother And All That And Stalking Her Day. [194559003] Vernoff: I do not think anybody said no to the story. Finchie had pitched this story a couple of times and we tried to find ways to fit it into episodes and it just kept falling by the wayside. It fell by wayside because it was a great big powerful hour. As just an A or B story in a traditional episode,

What are you waiting for?

Vernoff: I hope to walk away with a greater understanding of what is meant by consent – and a deeper understanding of how many different ways. Finchie learned from the Rape Crisis Center that she visited. I hope the medical professionals come back with conversations about modalities and systems. should be implanted in hospitals everywhere.

Finch: I hope it's a huge part of it – but for empathy with their partners and friends. In their eyes are talking about their female friends who are hurting because they were raped , And nine times out of 10, those boys will say something like, "I do not understand, it happened two years ago." Even the boys with the most empathy in the world can not understand why the results are so lasting and so strong. RAINN After the episode, which is an organization Gray's spinoff Private Practice [19459005workedwithona rape episode in 2011 . What kind of feedback did you get from them?

Finch: We worked closely with RAINN to make sure our language was as current as it could be. When we talk about rape we talk about women. Even though the ratio is higher for women,

Vernoff: Especially for soldiers.

Finch: I was excited to work with them because they were helpful to me when i was in college and a friend came to me and was assaulted. I did not know what to do – and there was not the internet yet. I'd been to Tori Amo's concert and she was the biggest face of that organization when they were starting out. I've got a stand with bumper stickers and things and I'd left with one. That's where I knew where to go to help my friend. [Editor’s note: The episode takes its name from one of Amos’ most beloved songs.]

That's an incredible story. Finchie, you were in the powerful hallway scene. What did that always the plan?

Vernoff: No! We forced her to do it. It was the opposite of planned; it was like an intervention. That hallway contains nearly the entire female writing staff [of Gray's ]. It contains exec producers on the show, exec producers in Shondaland, most of our female crew members. That entire hallway is Shondland women and that is because they wanted to do it. So many women came back to us after the table read and asked if they could be in that scene. They were willing to lose a day's pay to be in that scene. Finchie and I reached out to our line producer and to the Shondaland head of production and to Shonda herself and said, "Can we find a way for all these women to do this without them having loose a day's pay?" The answer was yes. That's not easy thing to do – to bring other crew members into a scene. But it's Shondaland and we got a big yes. That hallway is full of women who read that script and wanted to be there. They are not actors. Khalilah Joi, who is everything. Finchie tried to be in the scene and basically did an intervention and made her do it. Then she tried to say that she could not be in the scene. I said, "I'll watch the monitors!" I was there and got to be part of it in my own way. It was really the most powerful day I've ever had.

Are you submitting to Khalilah Joi for guest actress in a drama? Emmy consideration?

Vernoff: We are. And Michelle Forbes. Khalilah Joi came in to audition for our show four or five times over a period of a year. Every time I saw, it was for a one- or two-page scene character. I kept saying how much I loved the parts were too small. [Casting director] Linda Lowy kept bringing her back and I kept saying she was amazing but we had to do something bigger for us. She came into audition for the episode before [director/exec producer] Debbie Allen wanted to cast her. I said there something else. Then Finchie's script came out. Khalilahgot that role as an offer – she did not have to audition for that role. She'd paid her dues. She's incredible.

Elisabeth, how much research did you do? These scenes feel groundbreaking in just how extensive the portrayal was.

Finch: Private Practice did not speak for SVU but PP what one most aware of and I did a lot of searching. I did a lot of research to make sure that I was doing it differently. Because it's done so rarely, I wanted to make sure it did not. Private what the only one that popped up.

Did you get any pushback from the network or standards and practices?

Vernoff: We received notes initially from ABC's Broadcast Standards and Practices. They give these standard notes: "do not be too gory"; "do not be too explicit in your language"; "no side boob." But the ones we got on this script included, "Please do not show any fluid on the Q-tips" and "Please do not show any fluid under the blue lights." Shonda wrote: "What are you doing?" Shonda wrote: "What are you doing?" , She said, "Respectfully, I decline these notes." ABC that you right what. I really give them credit that they came back and said, "You're right. You can proceed as scripted." ABC Broadcast S & P's Executive to become part of the wall of women and they came. [194559003] Gray's that is still one of the top programs on the air and is sold all around the world?

Vernoff: It means a lot. As partisan as the Supreme Court situation and is, this episode is not a partisan episode. As much as the political moment that began the conversation is somehow partisan, rape is a nonpartisan issue. Rape occurs worldwide. The statists are staggering and nobody cares what your political affiliation is. It's a worldwide blight. Finchie, [director] Debbie Allen and Shonda. The opportunity to really look through it, to become deeply humanizing, character-driven storytelling, empathetic storytelling … I feel privileged to be a part of it and so grateful for Finchie. It feels pretty overwhelming.

Finch: Every woman on the staff wrote some piece of this episode. Because we have such a diverse and amazing staff, I was looking for a happy new year. Krista wrote this incredible scene in a way that's so clear and relatable. She is trying to find the best way to get through to him. I'm thinking about doing that, I'm not thinking about it.

Vernoff: We requested it and ABC watched episode and agreed with us. It's interesting because we are not depicting violence and the experience is over. At one point, ABC said: "I do not know what it's like to watch this episode."

This episode saw Jo reveal her abortion when she was married to her ex-husband. Can you talk about the decision to mate this episode?

Finch: The abortion came in because I wanted to mate as many points of view as possible. Jo's mom talks about what she's trying to keep the baby and other women do that and think, "Why can not I?" Between that and the abortion and what happened with Jo, there are so many different ways that I've known people and how they've dealt with it. Some mothers have a baby because they were raped and some are ready to raise them. Some are not ready to raise them but have them and put them up for adoption. Some people say they are in a situation where they want to have an abortion. In Jo's case, she had abortion because she was in a relationship with someone who was abusive. JW is the child of rape. How does that affect her going forward?

Vernoff: Profoundly. It was a really interesting turn in our season because we planned something different for Jo and then this episode emerged. "I experienced this and now back to your regular programming!" It was clear from the Camilla's performance that it was. "

It's been done in a very profound way that was going to derail the storytelling we had planned for the season – and we and Camilla – were good with that already affecting Jo's relationship with husband Alex (Justin Chambers) and since she has not been anybody, her friendships, too.

Vernoff: We're telling a story about trauma and a story about depression. Things tend to get worse before they get better.

Jo knows what it's like to be fucked by someone. How do you find out about her biological mom impact how do you copes with this knowledge? Presumably there's a struggle with not being able to get mad because she knows what her mother went through.

Vernoff: Right. This is a deep and complicated word that Jo has fallen into. It's a deep pain. Often what happens in the brain is looking straight at the process and when it can not find one, it often just gets stuck in the shit. Jo is a little stuck in the shit and is going to her way out. But it's not going to be easy.

This was a bottle episode for Jo and there's Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) stand alone episode coming soon . Will that episode be issue-focused, too? Vernoff: t's entirely different. The Amelia episode is really funny and not issue-laden. It feels emotionally satisfying for long-term Amelia fans. It's a joy ride. We've been making this romantic comedy for the most part this season and have a couple of episodes more exceptions to the rule – like this Camilla episode. The Amelia episode is a straight up rom-com, with some family guts underneath it and some truly lovely emotional resolve.

You're currently in production on the season 15 finale. [194559003] Vernoff: The season finale is funny and dramatic and unexpected.

Finch: I'm a longtime Gray's fan and this is a favorite of mine.

Gray's finales, will you say farewell to any regular series in the episode?

Vernoff: You know I can not answer that!

Gray's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

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