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Debora Cahn on "Unaccompanied Minor"...

Original Airdate: 5-19-11

It’s the finale. The FINALE! Shonda asked me to write the finale! How great is that???

Not great.

Last year, she wrote the finale herself. She pulled a machine gun out of her mental arsenal and mowed down half the cast. Derek. Alex. A bunch of cast members whose names we no longer remember. Why? Because they’re dead. She killed them. A couple years ago she asked me if I would write the Private Practice finale. I said no. She said, “You get to kill off a beloved cast member.” I said, “I’m in.” The year before, I’d written the Grey’s finale. Cakewalk. Why? George got hit by a bus. Oh, and Izzie, coding on the table as the final voice over rolls. Nothing’s easier for a writer than killing beloved cast members. It’s dramatic. It’s emotional. It’s like a lollipop, covered in a martini that doesn’t give you a hangover, covered in a bright sunshiny day that isn’t giving you skin cancer because of the magic. You know what you can’t do the year after your boss kills off a bunch of people in the finale? Kill off anyone. You can’t do anything the year after a mass murder. There’s no topping a mass murder. So we decided not to. No flood. No fire. No smallpox outbreak. No Lexie gets caught in a well while saving conjoined twin babies. No seven patients all snarled together after driving their hang-gliders into the electrical wires. No 15 simultaneous organ transplants. No surgery at all. You’ll notice, we never went into the OR in this episode. We never watched anyone have a meaningful conversation in a surgical mask. Nobody coded. Nobody charged anything to 200 and yelled CLEAR.

So what’s left, when you take away carnage, and the death of our loved ones?

Emotional devastation.

Sorry. It’s all we had left.

Seriously, it’s an interesting challenge, when you’ve started writing a show that’s focused on the lives of young single people, and then you get them into relationships, and some of the relationships manage to stand the test of time, and they eventually tie the knot, in a church, or on a post-it… suddenly you’ve got a show about married people. How did that happen? We were all having such a good time. And now this. Meredith and Cristina, of all people. Married. They grew up, our little girls. But of course, they didn’t. As some of us learned in recent years, just because you’re married, and shacked up, and the waiter in the restaurant calls you “ma’am” (what the f*@# is that about?) it doesn’t mean you’ve figured out how to be a partner. There’s an awful vertigo that sets in when women who were raised to be strong, and independent, and decisive, learn that they’re no longer supposed to make their decisions alone. They’re supposed to consult someone else. Hear their opinion. Consider it. And sometimes bend to it. It’s a nightmare. We were raised to do the opposite. Generations of our foremothers fought tooth and nail, so we could make our own decisions. And we’re still supposed to consult someone else? What the hell? And so Cristina. Making a terrible decision. Alone. The decision itself is a problem, obviously, but that wasn’t our focus, cause we’d all seen that one on Lifetime. Our focus was how she was making the decision. Where Owen was in the decision. What did it tell us about her marriage. Her partnership. Her ability to include someone else in her life, even at this most devastating time. Ultimately, she couldn’t. We can all slot ourselves into predictable spots on the political spectrum, but none of the bumper stickers prepare us for deciding with someone else. Everything that makes Cristina a great surgeon makes her a terrible partner. And that just sucks.

Meredith. Different hair color. Same story. She made a unilateral decision. She had to – he never would have understood. He sees the world in black and white, and she… well, with that last name and everything… So she made a decision. And she made it alone. And then when it all hit the fan, she still believed if she contained the information, she’d contain the damage, so she didn’t tell him what was going on. And so he disappears. At an extremely inconvenient time. It’s all her worst fears realized. She’s got a baby she never thought she was capable of mothering. And she’s alone. But that’s the world she created.

Our mothers worked hard. They were tough. They were clear. It seemed like such a good idea at the time. They taught us how to be strong, and independent, and decisive. They taught us how to be alone.

I was going to end the blog there, but that’s so miserably depressing, I can’t do it. We’re not all going to die alone. Season 8 spoiler – they don’t all die alone. But they struggle, like we all do. It’s a new set of problems.

Wow. Still depressing. Sorry. Have a great summer!

This blog post was originally posted on greyswriters.com and an archive of the posts can now be found at ABC.com.

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