ABC, activism, actress, Arizona Robbins, authenticity, bisexual, Callie Torress, calzona, characters, Disney, diversity, drama, equality, fans, gay, gender, GLAAD, grey's anatomy, grievance, Jessica Capshaw, lesbian, LGBTQ, marriage, opinion, perspective, popular culture, relationships, representation, romance, Sara Ramirez, shonda rhimes, Shondaland, speculation, stereotypes, television
Can we talk Grey’s Anatomy and the recent break-up of a couple that was once dubbed MFEO (Made For Each Other) and shared chemistry that was at one time dubbed by Show Runner, Shonda Rhimes, to be comparable to that of the series,’ “Golden Couple,” Meredith and Derek? A couple that Grey’s writer, Stacy McKee, has described as, “Romance: Sweet, epic, fairytale, romance. Pure and simple.” A couple with a fan base so big, they have entire online communities devoted to them. A couple whose wedding made headlines in the New York Times. A couple who inspired legions of lesbians to come out of the closet and helped alleviate a lot of hatred toward same-sex couples. I’m referring to, of course, the beloved Calliope Torres and Arizona Robbins, who together have become known as, “Calzona.” Since season 5, we have laughed with them, cried with them, and loved with them. They were adorable and complemented each other well. Here you had two strong women, both with big jobs as surgeons, and big personalities. One, an “Orthopedic Goddess, who breaks bones for a living,” and the other a “Type-A, know-it-all Pediatric Surgeon, who despite her perkiness, is totally, ‘hardcore.'” The wonderful thing about this pairing was the way they used to communicate with one another. In the beginning, Callie, a character who is sometimes called out for being passive-aggressive and bossy, and usually only see things her way. Not sure if this stems from her privileged upbringing, something that could have led to an entitled mindset, her insecurity, or it’s just something innate within her. Whatever the reason, Arizona Robbins, didn’t let her get away from an argument without letting her position be known. Initially resistant, Callie, would eventually come around to listening to Arizona’s perspective and although she may still have disagreed with her, she did come to understand where Arizona was coming from. And it was absolutely gorgeous to watch. But then, something changed. I wanna say it was around Season 7, when Arizona broke up with Callie at an airport and left for Africa, which, by the way, I believe was only written into the show to accommodate Jessica Capshaw’s maternity leave. However, I do think this is where some of the problems started for Calzona. In Arizona’s absence, Callie finds herself pregnant by her, “Friend with Benefits,” Dr. Mark Sloan. It should be pointed out, that by this point in the series, it was established that, Callie Torres, is not a lesbian, but a bisexual character. It’s an important distinction and one that will come up as a source of contention, not only on the show, but among the fans as well. And that, Sara Ramirez, was the one who introduced this sexual fluidity for her character. She told GLAAD, “I chose this path for Callie. [Creator] Shonda Rhimes collaborated with me on it and the writers, thank god, have gone with it…and I want to continue to develop an authentic journey for this character.” So, for anyone who thinks actors don’t have a say in what happens in terms of story lines for their characters, let this be proof, that they indeed do.
Which leads me to my conspiracy theory as to why Callie in Season 11, episode 5, decides she no longer wants to fix her broken relationship with Arizona and wants a divorce. Let me preface this by saying, this is purely speculation on my part and that I do not have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that what I’m asserting here is absolute truth, but there has been enough said in interviews over the years that one could come to this conclusion. And yes, I know, this is “just a tv show,” but I can’t help but be a little disappointed by how things ended for Calzona and just felt the need to vent and process out loud the demise of one of my all-time favorite tv duos.
Let’s go back to 2011, shall we? The year that brought us the fairy tale wedding of Callie and Arizona. Look at the images below and all you see is pure love radiating from these two women.
So, what happened? How could this couple go from being so seemingly in love to a couple that couldn’t seem to fix their “band aid” of a relationship? And had Callie telling Arizona by the end of this current season’s 5th episode, that she’s happier and freer without her, but wants so much for her? “So much more than this…so much more than being stuck with someone who feels stuck.”
Here’s the clip where Callie breaks up with Arizona – October 23, 2014 Season 11, Episode 5, “Bend and Break”
I’ll tell you what happened. At least what I was noticing off screen. It started around the time of The Musical Event, the episode that aired in March of 2011, just two months before the Calzona wedding. I remember reading an interview with Sara Ramirez where she spoke of how she thought it would be interesting to explore her character, Callie Torres, as single, someone who was unattached, since we never really saw Callie not in a relationship of some kind. I thought this odd, seeing as though she was part of a very popular coupling on Grey’s. And that so much buzz at the time was centered around the upcoming nuptials between the two women. Why would she be saying such a thing? It made me a little fearful that a plot twist could be headed our way and that perhaps, Arizona Robbins, would be killed off the show. I commented about this ad nauseam on the ABC Grey’s forum and people told me I was nuts. It then came out after Callie and Arizona had tied the knot, that for the series’ 8th season, the couple would be allowed some “semblance of normalcy” and would be able to enjoy their “honeymoon phase.” But people associated with the show made it clear that wedded bliss was usually short-lived in Shondaland and that drama was surely headed their way. That line always bothered me…”semblance?” Yeah, didn’t like that that meant, “appearance.” But anyway, I digress. As promised, the early part of the 8th season did deliver happy, loving, cutesy, and in love Calzona.
Then the latter part of the season happened. And here’s when things started to look a little suspect. All of a sudden, out of the blue, Arizona’s best friend, Nick, shows up at the hospital. It turns out he’s dying and had he told Arizona sooner, she probably could have done something to save him, but alas, it was too late and now she has to suffer yet another loss (it had been mentioned previously, that she lost her brother). Which leads to this:
All of a sudden, Arizona Robbins is needy and pleads with Callie to never leave her. LOL When did this become daytime tv? Please enjoy the below clip from the movie, Soap Dish, on how outlandish story lines come to be when dealing with behind the scenes drama and appeasing the stars involved.
Clip from Soap Dish, 1991
You just never know when a story is unfolding organically and in an authentic way, through its characters, or if the story is being driven by plot. Something tells me you could probably make the argument, for either case, when it comes to Grey’s as more story usually reveals itself with each passing episode. But, when it comes to Calzona, some of it, at least right now, is coming off as a little bit contrived just as a means to an end, in my opinion. As it’s been mentioned, since Calzona’s breakup, that what’s ahead for Callie, according to Sara, is that “what the writers have explained is they’re interested in seeing an unattached callie. Who is she at the hospital, what is she like around her co-workers? Do friendships arise, do working relationships improve? Do they not improve?…” Hmm, interesting. A single Callie. Isn’t that something she hoped to see going all the way to season 7? “Anyway, back to needy Arizona and her plea to Callie, just before she boards a plane to Idaho, along with some of the other doctors at Seattle Grace Mercy West. Uh, oh. Flight? Season Finale in Shondaland? I smell disaster, drama, and possible death. And yep, that is exactly what Grey’s fans got right as Season 8 came to a close, that left one character dead by episode’s end, while the others’ lives hung in the balance. It was quite a summer hiatus that left us with the burning question, who will survive? Will there be more casualties? Could Arizona be one of the victims, especially since her wife, uttered the ever so ominous foreshadowing, just before the audience sees the plane go down, “Life changes in an instant. Turns on a dime. One minute you’re miserable and then the next, you’ve met the most amazing woman in the world, and are in love.” Dun, dun, dun. See you in September to find out who lives. So, Calzona fans all across the world spent the hiatus speculating about Arizona’s fate. Only to find out, as some fans predicted, Arizona would be back, but as a result of the crash, was now going to have her leg amputated, which sets the stage for the drama that will ensue for our beloved Calliope and Dr. Robbins. We thought we’d get some grand professions of love and support and innermost fears revealed to each other as they navigate this life changing event. But instead, we’re treated to hostility and obligation. Not to mention frustration and angst, when Sara gave an interview to The Huffington Post on October 25, 2012, where she alluded to the fact that maybe Callie and Arizona don’t belong together and maybe someone lied to themselves when they committed to the relationship, in order to avoid being alone. She really seemed to lay out a lot of the story that would play out over the next two seasons, culminating with their break up and decision to divorce in episode 5 of Season 11. You can read the full interview here:
And now, 2 seasons later, we get an interview from Series Creator, Shonda Rhimes, that basically reiterates everything that Sara Ramirez “contemplated” would happen for Calzona.
“And has Callie’s desire to not be alone meant that she’s stuck in something that she maybe shouldn’t have stuck to? Isn’t that just what a marriage is? You just stick whether you want to or not.”
So, based on this information, it looks like they have been slowly dismantling Calzona for several seasons. And the idea to do this could actually go back as far as season 7, right around the time of their wedding. I don’t know about you, but as a Calzona fan, I find it rather bothersome. It’s very upsetting to learn that they made such a big deal out of this momentous occasion to show a beautiful wedding between two women on network television only to be planning their demise shortly after the episode aired. And what is the real reason for the destruction of Calzona? Who’s idea was it? Was it a way for Sara, Shonda, et al, “to continue to develop an authentic journey for this character?” because as the show reminded us TWICE in Calzona’s break up episode, Callie is a bisexual and is attracted to both men and women.
And she also brought it up in therapy and told the therapist that her bisexuality freaks Arizona out. I don’t like that the show continually makes Arizona out to be bi-phobic, when a lot of Arizona’s insecurities simply stem from the fact that Callie slept with her male best friend, conceived a child with him, and even when Callie and Arizona were a couple, no boundaries were ever set. I mean, seriously, how is this okay? Would you be fine with this situation?
Yeah, I didn’t think so. And something tells me if Arizona ever tried to bring her best friend AND former sex buddy into bed with her and Callie, Dr. Torres, would have gone postal. But I’ll save that for another post. I think I will call it, “In Defense of Arizona Robbins.” But, for right now, we will stick with Callie and her journey and her point of view because, honestly, from my where I’m sitting, therein lies the reason for the Calzona break up and the purpose of Callie reminding the audience in Bend and Break that she is bisexual. It was a way to set us up for what is ahead in the Grey’s Anatomy universe. Callie is now free and clear to begin sleeping with other people and she will encounter offers from both men and women. But given the show’s history, I’d be willing to wager, that any of these upcoming rolls in the hay, will be shown to be much steamier when Callie is paired with a man. And we know for a fact that these “hot scenes” are coming in the second half of this season, given a recent interview that talks about going back to the show’s roots of on-call room hookups. Patrick Dempsey told The Hollywood Reporter, “That there needs to be a resurgence in that.” And he said, “I think everybody has slept with everybody, so who else is there?” He went on to say, ‘it’s a teaching hospital and there’s a lot of really talented young actors out there that need an opportunity that we should be bringing them in and rotating them in as interns. I think that’s a possibility, and stirring up the hospital a bit would be a good thing.”
Sara Ramirez offered her take on this possibility as well, stating that, “Callie and Arizona need a “transitionary period” for both characters to process their newfound independence so that they can be comfortable exploring any sort of relationship again.
“It’s not like you’re dead just because you’re single again,” she says. “You’re not; you’re still a breathing human being with needs. It will be interesting to see how people that have been coupled up for so long and share a child consider the possibility of tapping back into that ‘sexy-time-in-the-on-call-room life.”
Get set for episode 10 of season 11, because based on some of the sides out now, it looks like Callie will be propositioned by a woman, played by Amy Motta. Then in episode 12, rumor has it, Callie, will be at a bar, drinking, when she approaches a “hot guy” and asks him to dance, which in the sides for that episode, is described as, “effortless and fun.”
Not sure what will be going on with Arizona during all of Callie’s one night stands, but I’m sure she will be focusing on her career, seeing as though the show already decimated her character, by having her cheat on Callie, then having a fling with an intern, all the while never fully taking the time to develop Arizona’s point of view, which as a result has the left the fandom divided. You’ve now got Team Calzona, Team Arizona, Team Callie, and Team Callie plus any man she comes into contact with…Dr. Owen Hunt or any “fresh man blood,” according to a lot of the homophobic comments you can see on IMDB, the Grey’s Facebook page, and other online sites, who continually wish for the death of the show’s lesbian character, Arizona Robbins. So, given this new direction to explore Callie’s journey, as an unattached bisexual character, you have to wonder if it’s pandering a lit bit to Hetero-normative culture. Will her interactions with men and women be shown to be equal, or will we merely see her being approached by women, while only engaging sexually with men? I’m very curious to see these questions answered as the season continues. And I’m also anxious to see what happens with Arizona. Part of me is worried, that by the end of the season, Arizona Robbins, could be written off the show. Keep in mind, that when she first entered the scene back in Season 5, she was only supposed to be appearing for a 3 episode arc. But after Shonda saw her interacting with Sara off camera, she noticed a “sparkle” and wanted to give them a shot as a potential pairing. So, Jessica Capshaw’s, initial guest star status turned into series regular in Season 6 and has been on the show ever since. But now that she’s no longer with Callie and Shonda has promised that she “will be good to Arizona,” you have to wonder what that means. Does that mean we will spend the rest of Season 11 watching Arizona get back to who she is at her core; a very strong, happy, driven, brilliant surgeon who never wanted kids? And if that’s the case, will Alex Karev, who’s been being groomed as the next Head of Peds take over for Dr. Arizona Robbins? Will the Fellowship that she’s undertaken be the beginning of her next chapter? It seems that could very well be the case, seeing that Arizona seems to have served her purpose for Callie’s journey. According to, Sara Ramirez, “Callie discovered a part of herself before Arizona came along with Erica Hahn. And then she fell in love with Arizona and more of who she is blossomed in that relationship because we were able to see that relationship on screen. When we got rid of Erica Hahn we couldn’t. Basically, it obviously served that purpose that we were able to see Callie in a grounded, loving relationship that had more to do with the attraction, and the mutual respect and the love for one another than anything else, than about gender, which I love.”
So, what does this mean for Callie moving forward? As she begins to get more in touch with herself along this journey of self-discovery, now that she’s divorced from Arizona, will she ultimately start a new relationship next season? And will her next love affair be with a man? As we know, for Callie, “it’s more about the essence of the person or the spirit of a person.” And we’ve already seen her in a long term lesbian relationship. So, logically, the next step for the show would be to explore how she, as a bisexual character, is also capable of having an intimate sexual relationship with a man. And as many of us know, this kind of representation is a rarity on television. And due to this underrepresentation, Sara Ramirez wants to “demonstrate how Callie’s personal journey is a uniquely bisexual one.” And don’t get me wrong, I am all for inclusive, accurate representations, that reflect the diverse world in which we live, but that doesn’t mean I’m not saddened by how it’s being achieved. It hurts my heart to know that Arizona Robbins was merely a part of Callie’s journey, not her destination. And that it looks like Callie’s relationship with Arizona will be used as some sort of visible blue print to illustrate her bisexuality.
Thanks for the memories. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I will continue to mourn the loss of our once perfect Calzona.
Andrew Belle – Make it Without You