Why Grey’s Anatomy’s New Gay Romance Is Amazing (Despite Being Underwritten)
Warning: This post contains spoilers for the first two episodes in Grey’s Anatomy Season 15.
Gay representation still matters, and Grey’s Anatomy just proved that.
I have been a fan of Grey’s Anatomy for more than a decade now. Now, as a 23-year-old, I remember a 12-year-old me sitting down to watch Grey’s with my grandmother in our living room. Was I too young to see hot doctors graphically cut up patients in the operating room after rolling around in the on-call room? Probably, but I watched it anyway.
And while the quality of the show has certainly fluctuated as the years have gone by, what has remained is its commitment to LGBTQ characters and fans.
The series is currently celebrating its 15th season on air and is doing so with a “season of love.” The writing staff on the show have announced that main character Meredith Grey will find love again after losing her husband a few seasons ago. In addition, there’s been promise of a love triangle between other characters and the aftermath of a recent wedding.
But it’s not those straight romances that are interesting me, it’s a new budding gay romance.
Last month, I shared with you that Grey’s Anatomy would be getting its first gay male surgeon played by relative newcomer Alex Landi. While this series has championed lesbian and bisexual characters since season 3, introduced a male transgender surgeon last year, and included several LGBTQ patients/one-off characters, the series has only now acquired a gay male surgeon.
LGBTQ fans of the series, including myself, got even more excited with the discovery that Alex Landi’s character, named Dr. Nico Kim, would get his own romance story.
With that exciting news, came the question of who would be on the other end of this relationship. None of the male interns showed any indication towards being gay (though cast member confirmed an intern would be the romance interest). In fact, two were already shown to have sex with women. But as I pointed out, bisexuality is always a possibility.
Cut to the actual two-hour premiere of the series and the introduction of Dr. Nico Kim. Let’s be honest, his role was very small.
Dr. Kim was introduced as the side-kick to the new orthopedic surgeon. In the first episode, Dr. Kim primarily acted as a wingman and supportive character to this “new hot doctor.” In fact, the character only had about 10 lines in the first two episodes.
But, that was to be expected. Grey’s Anatomy has an extremely large cast. There are about 12 actors with main character billing and an addition 12 or so actors who fill in reoccurring roles. This makes up the wonderful world of the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, but it also makes for a difficult acting situation.
With so many other characters in the show, how much time was a new character like Dr. Nico Kim going to get? Not much. Alex Landi was given almost no time to make a lasting impression on the audience and present a real performance.
That said, the writers did give Landi something. They handed him a funny and charming romance.
While Nico Kim didn't talk much, he did get to flirt. With a wink here and a flirty bar drink there, Kim gave us gay fans what we wanted. Gay romance and flirtation on tv screens (and ones that aren’t automatically taken to a sexual place).
But what really sold the scenes and the romance was the other half. Jake Borelli’s Levi “Glasses” Schmitt was already considered an adorable klutz after his first full season on the show. But the addition of him fainting at the stare of Landi’s Dr. Kim made him an instant fan favorite.
If you’re watching Grey’s Anatomy, there’s a high chance you’re a romantic or enjoy goofy romance stories. The new Dr. Kim/Dr. Schmitt relationship fits perfectly in that.
The romance is sweet and goofy with a bit of passion mixed in. Plus, the romance opens a compelling story about a person who used to consider himself straight discovering an attraction to someone of the same-sex. This is a story the show has already covered (with bisexual icon Dr. Callie Torress), but giving it a gay male twist brings new life to it.
As a gay fan and a Grey’s fan, I couldn’t help loving the possibilities of this new gay romance. I rewatched those short scenes multiple times, I tweeted about them, and I’m counting down the days till the next episode with it’s 30 second scene.
Do I want more lines for Alex Landi? You bet. Do I want the Kim/Schmitt couple to get more airtime than a few seconds per episode? Yes. But am I just happy to see a gay romance on a series that I’ve been watching for over a decade now? Absolutely.
This touches on a deeper issue here. The need for representation. I have supported the bisexual and lesbian characters on this series for years. I have cried for Callie Torres, I have idolized Arizona Robbins, and now I get to receive more. I get to see a gay male romance blossom on the show. I get to be represented like never before, and I am thrilled for it.
Back in 2012, tv megapower Shonda Rhimes was asked by a fan why she included so many LGBTQ characters in her shows. Rhimes said that it was because LGBTQ people exist and deserve to be represented.
Answer: Because I believe everyone should get to see themselves reflected on TV. EVERYONE. And because I love all my gay and lesbian friends. AND because I think same-sex marriage is the civil rights fight of our era and back when being a person of color was the civil rights fight, people like Norman Lear put black people on TV and helped change some minds. So you know, it’s gotta be paid forward. As long as we are willing to sit by while one person is not free, none of us are free.
And FINALLY: because as long as someone feels like it is okay to ask the question “why all the gay people on your shows”, then there is still a HUGE problem that needs to be solved. It’s like asking “Why all the black people on your shows”. (Which is, in fact, why there are also a lot of people of color on my shows . Cause people keep asking. Like it’s unusual. Which means we have a LONG way to go). Okay, done preaching.
This message and thought was depicted greatly in the emergence of Dr. Nico Kim and his romance with Dr. Levi Schmitt. Gay men want representation, so they flocked at the announcement of Grey’s new gay character and gay romance. Even gay men who aren't fans of the series were excited by the news.
And as Shonda Rhimes and her team are writing away to create stories concerning these two characters (which will hopefully expand as time goes by), there are gay men and gay youth waiting to absorb them.
After all, I’m sitting at my computer ranting away about the characters and romance as I pass the time thinking, “Is it Thursday yet?”
And as I do that, there is some young gay man in some living room waiting to see the new, hot doctor flirt with the cute, messy intern before they roll around in the on-call room and then get back to surgery.
With as little time as they were given this past week, that gay romance made a lasting impression and represented so many. I can't wait for more.