The Main Attributes that Should Be Changed if Grey's Anatomy is Adapted

Published: 2021-06-17 09:44:05
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Grey’s Anatomy: How Television Differs From Film
Television dramas differ dramatically from theatrical creations in a multitude of ways.
Directors of big-screen productions aim to have their audiences fully satisfied by the end of the film, having experienced a complete emotional story. Contrastingly, writers of television dramas aspire to have their audience return on a weekly basis, demanding that their shows continue to take unexpected twists and turns, causing the viewer to be left in anticipation of the episodes to come. Based on the fact that movies are released in a single event, and remain in theatres for a short amount of time, they have a limited amount of social relevance that they are expected to meet. As a running television drama, especially with viewers ranging in age and social status, a prime time show is expected to remain relevant and current throughout its seasons. Grey’s Anatomy, written by Shonda Rhimes is an excellent example of how television dramas differ from film. Currently the script maintains that each episode leaves the viewer in suspense and remains socially relevant in both its story-lines and its soundtrack. Further, it has the freedom to introduce new characters, and remove characters as the writers see fit, because the story-line is evolving as opposed to contained. Should Grey’s Anatomy be written for a theatre release, these elements would change drastically.The key component that allows for television drama’s to remain on the air is their ability to keep viewers coming back each week. In order to achieve this, the script must be filled with twists, turns, and cliffhangers to keep the audience on edge. Grey’s Anatomy seems to have perfected this art. It is not uncommon to have main characters appear dead at the end of the episode, only to leave viewers wondering if they will survive through the coming week. The greatest examples of this end-of-show death involve the two main characters, Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd. In season three, episode 16 titled “Drowning on Dry Land”, Meredith Grey finds herself flung into the ocean and drowning. The last thing viewers see is her unconscious underwater, building anticipation and suspense as to whether or not she survives. A second example of a similar cliffhanger involves Derek Shepherd shot in the chest in season six, episode 23 titled “Sanctuary”. Both these examples cause the viewers to eagerly await the next episode, ensuring that they become return viewers. However, this strategy does not serve a director well in the context of film.
A film is designed to keep the attention of the audience simply through the duration of the film. There is no need to guarantee that a viewer will return, so the script is allowed to be contained and come to a satisfying conclusion. Some of the worst criticisms of films include that they were unable to wrap up the story in a way that satisfied the audience, or that holes in the script and plot remained unfilled. This may be different in the case of trilogies or a series of films, but the rule of containment holds true for the majority of cinematic pieces. Should Grey’s Anatomy be written for a theatrical experience, cliffhangers would be unnecessary, and characters would be much less likely to find themselves on the verge of death at the end of the film, for fear of unsatisfied movie-goers.
Tied to the concept of the cliffhanger, television dramas are known for writing characters in and out through constant death and introduction. Grey’s Anatomy has introduced a slew of different characters, developed their stories, only to have them ripped from the show in a shooting or a bus accident. Currently less than half of the original Grey’s Anatomy cast members remain part of the show, and the majority of characters lost were killed by the script. Television is able to write in such drastic changed for characters based simply on the fact that they run over such a large time-frame and must continually freshen the story. This would be nearly impossible to accomplish in the short run-time of a theatre film.
Should Grey’s Anatomy be written for the big screen, characters would be much more permanent. Two hours in a theatre is not enough time to introduce and remove nearly as many characters as a show is capable of. In order to contain the story, and allow the audience to feel attached to characters, they must be present throughout the entirety of the film. Typically, excluding most horror movies, the characters introduced in the beginning of the film will remain until the end.
Finally, shows meant for television audiences are expected to maintain their cultural and social relevance throughout the entirety of their existence. For instance, as gay marriage became a hot button topic, Grey’s Anatomy wrote in a lesbian couple to the second season that would remain through multiple seasons of the show. Not only does the subject matter reflect current events, but the style of the show is expected to do the same. As musicals became more popular, Shonda Rhimes wrote a musical episode of Grey’s Anatomy, which was a bold move in the opinion of many viewers.
Because movies are only released once, their cultural relevance is confined to the time in which it is released. Though they are expected to follow the same rules applying current events to their story-line, it does not extend past the release date and immediate surrounding of the film. In the event that Grey’s Anatomy were written for film as opposed to television, the cultural references would become an isolated snapshot as opposed to a running commentary.
Television dramas and films made for the cinema are entirely different art forms. The strategies for captivating audiences with the script and story-line vary drastically between the two. While television allows for a script to be constantly changing and evolving, a film must be contained, leaving the audience satisfied with the ending and the characters. Grey’s Anatomy, being written for television is an excellent example of a changing script that is able to write characters in and out, while maintaining its social relevance. In the event that Grey’s Anatomy be written for a film setting, these qualities would have to be eliminated or altered to be as effective as it has been in it’s original medium.

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