Group Anatomy

Adam Griffiths

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ brings students together and puts homework on hold

This group of students meets every Thursday in Stewart Hall to watch “Grey’s Anatomy.” As many as 20 people come here to enjoy the show. ELIZABETH MYERS| DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: John Proppe

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not seen last week’s episode of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” read no further.

There are English papers to be written, graphs to be drawn for algebra, notes to be taken in sociology and physiology books to be read.

But not right now.

Dressed in flannel pajama pants and oversized Kent State sweatshirts and armed with Crustano’s bags and Cheez-Its, eight girls plop themselves down in front of a large screen TV in the first-floor Stewart Hall lounge. The lights are dimmed.

At 9 p.m. every Thursday since the beginning of this semester, these eight girls have dropped whatever they’re doing to sit down and spend one hour together.

It all started last semester when Rebecca Toussaint, senior integrated language arts major and resident assistant in Stewart Hall, began watching the series with the residents on her floor.

“I just went around knocking on open doors and rounded up a lot of people,” she said.

They usually don’t let boys in, but this week a few were there.

“A couple of weeks ago they were playing video games and we were like, ‘Excuse me, but we need the TV,'” she said. “I didn’t know anything about these stragglers tonight.”

But back to the episode. All eyes are focused on the screen as the drama unfolds. Two characters are bickering. Another is throwing up onto the floor. And all of a sudden, a man lights a lighter and inadvertently sets himself on fire.

Collective gasp. Hands cover dropped jaws. The show cuts to a commercial.

“Did you hear about the fight between McDreamy and Blake in real life?” Toussaint volunteers after a moment.

“They resolved it,” Amanda Zehms, freshman fashion merchandising major, replies.

A few girls run out during the commercials, but those that remain debate whether the main character is pregnant.

This heavy, group-oriented viewing is part of the reason Nielsen Media Research, the company that samples homes across the United States each month and provides ratings for each broadcasting segment, is preparing to include college students in its national audience estimates beginning Jan. 29, 2007.

Laura James, vice president of Client Communications, said that is a “very natural extension” of what Nielsen already does.

“Viewing was not counting at college,” she said. “Now, if a Nielsen home has a college student living in a dorm or an off-campus apartment, their viewing will count in the family’s viewing.”

Sitting atop the Nielsen charts, ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” won more than 22 million viewers for the week of Oct. 2 and is the latest drama series in an ongoing trend of pop culture phenomena to bring people like the girls from Stewart Hall together each week.

Freshman accounting major Sadie Kelly walks in during the next commercial break and realizes that she’s missed 15 minutes.

“Oh my god! Are you serious?” she exclaims. “Why is Meredith acting weird?”

“She’s on morphine,” Toussaint replies quickly, hushing her.

The show has an ability to appeal to more than one type of viewer, said Rachel Jackson, a freshman American Sign Language major who had never seen the show before she came to Kent.

“There’s something happening every minute that keeps everyone drawn in and makes you want to watch,” she said.

For freshman exploratory major Kristyn Lebovitz, it’s less complicated.

“There’s just so much drama,” she admitted, “and it’s drama that’s not your own drama, so it’s good drama.”

Lebovitz, Jackson and Toussaint all fall into the target audience for the show, which is two-thirds women, according to USA Today.

The show features bold and determined women of different ages and different backgrounds. It’s not hard to see why these eight girls are so engrossed.

One character is dealing with a failing marriage. Another is in the middle of a love triangle. Combine this with the intensity of working in a metropolitan hospital, and you’ve got the solution that’s driven “Grey’s Anatomy” into its third season of popularity.

In the last few moments of the show, hell breaks loose.

“You go girl,” Zehms yelled as one character commands a final scene.

The love triangle is broken. A budding relationship is crushed. A few girls shed tears. Everyone starts going crazy when the writers have closed all but a few of the doors that have been left open. The trademark narrative at the beginning and end of each episode finishes over the chords of a perfectly placed pop song.

Contact features reporter Adam Griffiths at [email protected].