March 6, 2019
Through an analysis of various negotiations of disability in House, M.D . and Grey’s Anatomy , my paper discusses the narrative and non-narrative means that make the medical drama such an appealing genre to contemporary audience members. As the most successful medical dramas of the post-millennial era, House, M.D. and Grey’s Anatomy rely heavily on the exhibition of non-normative bodies, the humorous device of re-naming patients, and the narrative construction of disability as unbearable deviance. While Laura Backstrom locates the freak show in non-fictional television formats like the talk show and documentary, my paper illustrates how the medical drama, although at times highly self-reflexive, has become another pervasive relocation of the freak show into contemporary television. In a close reading of Grey’s Anatomy , I further demonstrate how the portrayal of a disabled doctor as a series regular both manifests and challenges some of the normative perceptions of the body that the genre relies on.