Mocking Millennials Doesn't Make A Show Any Better, Grey's Anatomy

Photo: Derek Johnson/ABC.
While Scandal and New Girl will officially end with their seventh seasons this upcoming spring, Grey’s Anatomy sailed into season 14 on Thursday night with no signs of stopping its soapy, hospital-set drama. With Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) officially leading double the season premieres — or more — Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) and Jessica Day (Zooey Deschanel) ever will, Grey’s is obviously doing a lot right, even now that it’s old enough for a learner’s permit in certain states. In season 14 double-opener “Break Down The House” and “Get Off On The Pain,” we saw one couple get together, one couple nearly get together, and one doctor find out she’s facing a surprise medical emergency. That’s all classic Grey’s Anatomy. But, there was still a huge problem lurking amid the steamy doctor hookups and declarations of “You’re my favorite person.” That problem is the fact the Grey’s season 14 premiere was a two-hour drag of millennials.
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Our millennial shading begins in the first few minutes of “Break Down,” as chief of surgery Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) reminds fellow doctor Richard Webber (James Pickens Jr.), there is a new crop of “sub-Is,” or sub-interns, in Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. The name already makes them sound tragic. The hospital newbies are fourth-year medical students in the top-tenth of their respective classes. Considering how competitive and stressed millennials tend to be, we can assume these “sub-Is” are the most talented people at their schools. Yet, we would be very, very wrong.
Instead, the proto-interns are made to be “completely socially inept” fools who are so awkward, they can never look away from their tablet screens and iPhones. In fact, one intern named Candace Warner (Liberty Hobbs) records one of Dr. Webber’s speeches on her phone while repeating every single thing he says into the device. As someone who records conversations for a living, I can confirm that is the most distracting way to capture someone else’s words. Since Candace is in her fourth year of medical school, it’s more than likely she would have also realized how inept her recording process is. Yet, silly millennial that she is, Candace only realizes this when Webber tells her she’s being annoying. Young people, amirite?

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If Candace’s dumb behavior was the only signal Grey’s thinks millennials are The Worst, there wouldn’t be much of a problem. But, Miss Warner’s voice-to-notes app nonsense was only the tip of the iceberg. When the sub-interns observe the gory reality of medicine, the entire situation turns to chaos. A newly-admitted patient starts spurting blood, as is like to happen in a hospital with the trauma record of Grey Sloane’s, and Candace starts screaming at the top of her lungs for over 10 full seconds. Another student literally passes out.
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It’s even worse when the beta-interns scrub into an actual procedure. Fellow intern Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli), henceforth known as Glasses, tries to get a better look at the work of Dr. Jo Wilson (Camilla Luddington) and allows his glasses to tip off of his face and into the open intestines of a surgery patient. That’s a lawsuit waiting to happen. It’s almost like the entire group doesn’t know they’re in a hospital or are planning to one day be surgeons themselves.
The Glasses plotline takes over the millennial dragging for the remainder of the episode. Jo, trying to avoid her feelings for Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), has sex with the intern after running into him at a bar. It is decidedly bad, with Glasses dropping his namesake onto Jo in the middle of the deed. Then, when Jo sneaks out of the guy’s house, which is actually his mother’s because he is a millennial, damnit, she breaks the glasses. To wrap all of this up, Jo is roundly mocked by everyone she works with the moment they find out she would stoop so low as to sleep with the lowly, nerdy, glasses-wearing millennial. Oh, the humanity!
The biggest issue with all of this millennial dragging is that it takes you out of the genuine, interesting tensions boiling around Grey’s season 14. Meredith is dealing with the fact her boyfriend’s presumed-dead doctor fiancée Megan Hunt (Abigail Spencer) is alive and back in Washington, now with an alarming stomach injury ripping open her abdomen. Super-surgeon Mere decides she’s the person who needs to fix what’s ailing Megan, and it takes two episodes to succeed. At the same time, Amelia Carver (Caterina Scorsone), Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd), and Teddy Altman (Kim Raver) are in an uncomfortable love triangle, with Megan’s medical crisis hanging over the romantic crisis.
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While all of this hums in the traditional Grey’s fashion, the “hilarious” sub-intern hijinks distract from the serious matters at hand with their screaming and general failures. The youths can’t even understand why a gunshot wound to the stomach might bar a newly-dead body from being a candidate for an abdomen transplant. How are we supposed to believe these would-be interns are in the top 10% of their classes, let alone the top 90%? Yes, it’s all comic relief, but no show needs that much overly-generalized comic relief. And, even if Glasses is meant to serve as a catalyst for Jo and Karev to finally get together, every single sub-intern doesn’t have to be just as incompetent as he is. Again, these students are supposed to be really, really, ridiculously smart.
It may seem fun to shade Generation Y, but it’s probably not smart. Countless shows have pulled that obvious trick, so it already seems tired. On top of that, it’s a bizarre strategy to confront members of your audience with screen-obsessed, clumsy-looking, unsexy caricatures of themselves. Millennials are already cord-cutting at a wildly high rate, and many simply wait until their favorite series pop up on streaming services like Netflix to tune into the latest seasons.
If a show like Grey’s Anatomy, which many millennials grew up watching and loving, keeps insulting Gen Y, it’s likely cords won’t be the only thing we cut out of our lives.
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