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The anatomy of a cult television series

Many of my colleagues are puzzled as to why Star World is showing the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy all over again, right from Season 1, considering (a) Season 8 of the show is already on air on Z Café and (b) Season 9 spoilers are all over the Net. Poonam Saxena writes.

tv Updated: Sep 08, 2012 01:25 IST
Poonam Saxena

Many of my colleagues are puzzled as to why Star World is showing the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy all over again, right from Season 1, considering (a) Season 8 of the show is already on air on Z Café and (b) Season 9 spoilers are all over the Net.

But I’m not complaining. For me, it’s a good thing, because I’ve missed out on the show totally. (That’s not as strange as it sounds: I mainly track desi shows and secondly, how much TV can anyone possibly watch? I’ve caught intermittent episodes of Grey’s Anatomy from different seasons, but watching the entire series unfold right from Episode 1, Season 1, makes for addictive viewing – even if it’s an old show (Grey’s Anatomy premiered on ABC in 2005). Usually one catches whatever episodes one can manage but seeing a whole series unfurl in an unbroken arc is a rare pleasure.

The last show I watched like that was Supernatural, first on Star World and then, the final Season (Season 7) on AXN. It was a strange show to get hooked on to, because, quite honestly, how can you get hooked on to a horror show on television? There are so many distractions – the phone rings, you rush out to get a snack in the middle – that you can’t really feel fear like you can in a movie hall. But the reason Supernatural works is because it’s about horror only on the surface: two brothers drive hundreds of miles all over Mid West America hunting demons. In actual fact, the show isn’t about monsters; it’s about the fraught relationship between the brothers. The strangeness of a show about ruthless hunters but which is actually about their feelings is what makes Supernatural a cult hit.

Grey’s Anatomy too seems compelling. For those who came in late, the series is set in a fictional Seattle hospital. The main cast of characters includes a group of surgical interns and their senior doctors. Patients are the background music. But in the main, the series charts the life of Meredith (played by Ellen Pompeo), who arrives at the hospital with more baggage than you could hoist on a trans-Atlantic flight. Her mother was a pioneering surgeon; she’s slept with her boss’s boss, the good looking Dr Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), and so the love-sex life status is very complicated. The interplay between the interns and their seniors plus the human drama you get in a hospital make for a heady cocktail. I’m looking forward to watching this one unfold.

Repeat rhetorical question: why can’t we have seasons in India? It would make a world of a difference to the quality of our shows.