The XX Factor

“Grey’s Anatomy” Steals Script From “thirtysomething”

I had a sense of déjà vu watching the Grey’s Anatomy denouement of the Katherine Heigl character Izzie’s season-long cancer diagnosis, juxtaposed with the surprise hit-by-a-bus plot twist killing off T.R. Knight’s George O’Malley in the last scene. Until I read Willa Paskin’s post, I wrote the feeling off to general season finale redundancy. After all, just this week Gregory House’s hallucinations imitated Izzie’s endless conversations with her dead fiancé Denny proving there is nothing original where ratings are concerned. But something in Willa’s post about Grey’s forgetting its pact with readers reminded me when I had felt the same bait-and-switch let-down from a series before. This is ancient history by TV drama standards, but the writers of TV classic thirtysomething pulled the same stunt back in 1991 when viewers, agonizing over the possible death of Patricia Wettig’s beloved character Nancy Weston, were completely surprised to learn that, though Nancy pulled through , college professor Gary Shepherd, played by Peter Horton, was summarily taken out off-screen. The surviving characters learned he was hit by a tractor trailer in the last moments of the episode. It’s probably not a coincidence that Peter Horton went on to executive produce Grey’s Anatomy.