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Isaiah Washington returns to 'Grey's'

By Zach Lederman
On May 1, 2014

Were you aware that "Grey's Anatomy" was still on television? I wasn't either, but apparently the show is now in its tenth season! To tell you the truth, the last time I heard about "Grey's" was when Isaiah Washington was fired from it in 2007 for using a homophobic slur against fellow cast member, T.R. Knight. Thus, it was quite shocking to hear that Washington will be returning to the show for a single episode this season, as part of a farewell for Sandra Oh's character, Dr. Christina Yang.
From a television perspective, it makes sense to bring back him back, as his character, Dr. Preston Burke, and Yang were engaged to be married before his dismissal from the show. However, from multiple other perspectives, it might seem to make little to no sense at all.
Let's start by looking at how this makes the show's producers look. Clearly at some point, it was determined that Washington's actions were reprehensible to the point that his continued presence on the show would damage the show, the network and its profits. So how does this make the show's producers look? Well, honestly, like they have no business sense. The Gay Rights movement, since 2007, has only gotten significantly stronger. People were unhappy with his actions back then - how do you think they're going to look at them today? They're not going to take kindly to you bringing back someone who they perceive as directly opposed to their existence as human beings.
Additionally, this just makes the producers look weak, like they're incapable of making a decision and sticking to it. You guys and girls likely spent weeks upon weeks discussing what to do about the situation before finally coming to the conclusion that Washington had to be let go. Now, less than ten years later, you're reversing the entire decision. Were you firing him, or giving him a time-out?
Finally, there's the obvious perspective: that of human rights. By reversing the decision, the producers are condoning this behavior. Some claim it's tantamount to saying, "Well, it was bad what happened, but it doesn't really matter in the long run." What kind of message do they think this is sending to the general public? Forgiveness for one's actions is important, and after seven years Washington has certainly learned his lesson, but we're in an especially critical period in the Gay Rights movements. It's not the time to be excusing this sort of behavior, which is exactly what the producers are doing. Is he really a homophobe? Probably not - we all say things we don't necessarily mean. But Washington lost his privilege to work on "Grey's Anatomy" in 2007. There's no need to reverse that decision.

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