Shonda Rhimes Fought To Keep Recent ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Episode Regarding Sexual Assault As Raw As Possible

The latest episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' is hard to watch, which was exactly how Shonda Rhimes intended it.

Shonda Rhimes smiles on the red carpet.
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The latest episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' is hard to watch, which was exactly how Shonda Rhimes intended it.

Shonda Rhimes is the woman behind hit shows such as Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice. As a showrunner, writer, and producer, she has never been one to shy away from difficult issues ranging from racism to homophobia and now sexual assault. Her shows are not meant to be only a source of entertainment, but to shed a light upon real issues going on around our world today.

The latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy portrayed the medical aspect of what occurs clinically after a sexual assault. It was raw, emotional, and difficult to watch. Yes, Rhimes, could have opted to merely graze over this topic or stay away from it altogether. However, she wanted viewers to see the hard and painful truth of what victims of sexual assault go through following the violent act, according to Buzzfeed.

In this particular episode, a woman seeks help for a facial laceration and turns to Dr. Jo Karev, played by Camilla Luddington. Upon further examination, Jo finds that the woman is covered in wounds and bruises consistent with sexual assault. By sharing her own story regarding assault, Jo is able to convince the woman to submit to a rape kit. It becomes clear that the victim does not want to come forward about the incident for fear of not being believed. The episode takes viewers step by step through the medical process of conducting a rape kit and concludes with the victim eventually agreeing to report her rape to the police.

The story line of this somber episode was inspired by the story of Christine Blasey Ford, a woman who testified against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, claiming he sexually assaulted her in 1982. Kavanaugh denied the accusations.

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Rhimes actually had to fight ABC to get the episode shown on air in the raw nature with which it was depicted. Fellow showrunner Krista Vernoff explained Rhimes insistence that the depiction be as real and honest as possible.

“They give these standard notes: ‘don’t be too gory,’ ‘don’t be too explicit in your language,’ ‘no side boob.’ But the ones we got on this script included, ‘Please don’t show any fluid on the Q-tips’ and ‘Please don’t show any body fluids under the blue lights’. Shonda wrote back a pretty passionate response of the myriad ways that networks are willing to show actual violence but that what we were doing here was the medical process that happens in the wake of violence and they were trying to tell us we couldn’t show it.”