Fired 'Grey's Anatomy' Star Returns in Blatant Ratings Ploy

Grey's AnatomyI'm always vaguely surprised to hear that Grey's Anatomy is still on the air. There was a time when I was mildly obsessed with the show (even though I lived in Seattle at the time and eternally raged against the characters' habit of referring to ferries as ferry boats), but that was like eight seasons ago. Back when Isaiah Washington played Dr. Burke, before he triggered a media poopstorm over accusations that he'd insulted his co-star T.R. Knight with an ugly anti-gay slur.

Do you remember all that craziness in 2007? It was a total circus, with Washington first issuing a statement that apologized for the slur, then announcing backstage at the Golden Globes that "I never called T.R. a faggot." ABC reportedly subjected him to "executive counseling" before ultimately dropping him like a hot potato.

Oddly, ABC is now touting the fact that Isaiah Washington is coming back to Grey's Anatomy for a guest appearance. Because Burke's return is important for a ratings boost the storyline.

ABC announced they were dismissing Washington from Grey's on June 7, 2007, prompting him to issue a statement that was copied directly from Network:

I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

He repeatedly denied the slur, and insisted he was fired because of racism:

Someone heard the booming voice of a black man and got really scared and that was the beginning of the end for me. (...) it didn't help me on the set that I was a black man who wasn't a mush-mouth Negro walking around with his head in his hands all the time. I didn't speak like I'd just left the plantation and that can be a problem for people sometime.

But then he went on to explain that he had in fact used the slur in a verbal altercation with costar Patrick Dempsey:

I said several bad words. There's no way you're going to treat me like the B-word, the P-word, or the F-word.

Washington said he never directed the word at costar T.J. Knight and that Knight had falsely accused him of homophobia in order to advance his career:

He has been very disappointed in playing the character he has been playing. He told me that.

Wow. It's sort of hard to believe ABC would be willing to unearth this old mess -- unless, of course, they wanted to drum up fresh interest in the show. Grey's Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes says Burke is critical to the story, which will follow Sandra Oh's decision to leave the show after the tenth season:

It's important to me that Cristina's journey unfolds exactly as it should. Burke is vital to that journey -- he gives her story that full-circle moment we need to properly say goodbye to our beloved Cristina Yang.

Or it's a clever way to use controversy to pull in viewers. Juuuuust saying.

What do you think about Burke returning to Grey's Anatomy? Do you think it's a ratings ploy?

Image via ABC



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Lulu2216 Lulu2216

I think its a good thing. I think that he will come ask Cristina to come with him and this will be why she leaves. I say its better then killing her off or ruining her friendship with Meridith.


I know! What the hell was that whole Mare/Christina feud thing about? I think this would make perfect sense .The character has not really committed to any relationship since she got left at the alter. I think he was "the one". Makes perfect sense for her to leave the show that way ...If that's how they end it.

Rhonda Fomby

Linda Sharps you are an idiot!  Of course, they're bringing him back as a ratings is happening in May after all.  BUT it is also to facilitate Sandra's exit.  I look forward to watching she and Burke reunite and ride off into the sunset together.  If anyone was her character's mental match, it was her beloved mentor and first real love interest!

IKnow... IKnow0101

I don't think she will be riding off the sunset with Burke. It will probably be a reflection episode so they will need Burke to see how her life would've turn out if she had married him.

Rebec... Rebecca7708

Of course it's a ratings grab! The show is going downhill, and they are running out of storylines. It's not terrible yet but, I hope they go out with a bang and make next season the last.

Frost... FrostyMelted

I'm stunned to learn this TV show is still on the air. 

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