Grey’s Anatomy is preparing for the absence of actress Sandra Oh, 42, who plans to leave in 2014 at the end of Season 10. Power producer Shonda Rhimes created the show and its characters and storylines. To describe Ms. Oh’s faceted portrayal of super-smart surgeon Cristina Yang, M.D., Ph.D., I’d use the promo tagline for Scandal, Ms. Rhimes’ other big hit for ABC: Cristina is Twisted. Crazy. Good.
I was obsessed with Grey’s when it started, but I bailed out somewhere around Season 6. I liked Cristina for the most part, especially when she was off the job. Ferociously ambitious and looking for love just like the rest of us, she was the ball-buster viewers came to love. She made it known early on that she didn’t want children, to the point that she could be uncomfortable around them, and in sharp contrast to her BFF Meredith Grey, who pined for kids.
The role of Cristina Yang was something different for network TV and not just because there are few Jewish Asian-American roles on air. . Slate says the character actually changed the medium, in part because “Grey’s respected Cristina’s ambition and wit, laurelled her with humor, swag, and a sex drive, and made her the lead character’s best friend” instead of positioning her as the “unlikeable shrew”.
“I feel like Cristina — who does not represent a classic or traditional female character that we see on television — is really essential to the movement of where we are as women. A woman isn’t only defined by her career and a woman is not only defined by her role as a mother and a wife either…I do like the differences between Cristina and Meredith because you get to see multiple facets of the choices that women can make.”
Speaking of choice, in 2011 Cristina terminated a pregnancy, something else you don’t see every day on TV. To do otherwise would have been untrue to the character, which had previously suffered an ectopic pregnancy before The Decision had to be put into motion. Sandra Oh is a NotMom in real life, and whether it’s by choice or by chance, surely she brought that to bear when Cristina refused to compromise about the abortion, saying, “This isn’t pizza vs. Thai. You don’t give a little on a baby.”
As for how Ms. Oh’s character will be written out of the series, Ms. Rhimes said it will reflect Cristina Yang’s “growth as a person and as a surgeon. Cristina Yang is not going to magically decide she wants babies, no.”
(Image Credit: ABC/Grey’s Anatomy)