Alex Karev: The Underdog

If you don't know how much I love Grey's Anatomy, you don't know me. Point blank. Not only have I reveled in watching each episode live, I have gone back to re watch old episodes more times than I can admit. It's my feel good show, except half the time you're bawling in tears through the emotional roller coaster my girl Shonda Rhimes puts us through. It is actually an emotionally grueling show: from watching our beloved patients die; to seeing our favorite doctors die in plane crashes; to seeing another doctor literally get hit by a bus; to seeing another (my personal favorite) leave the hospital; and more recently, seeing our very own McDreamy die. The plots are so poignant that the episode after McDreamy's death inspired me to write this post on mourning, which by the way garnered so much attention, I almost started to feel like an impostor. I mean, it was birthed from a fictional story (Ok, and some true life ones too).

Anyway, as I have probably already mentioned in the past, every character on Grey's has a thing or two you can learn from them. And the more I talk about the show with my friend M and my sister E, the more I realize how much there is to learn from each character. I thought about writing a thing or two about some of them. I will start with Karev because as at the moment I am typing this (which was about three weeks ago), the most recent episode was centered around him. It made me remember just how much Alex Karev has grown.

"A junkie Dad, a crackpot Mom, and somehow Karev still became a doctor. I am not easily impressed, but I am impressed"- Miranda Bailey.

I could stop after this quote, and you'd still understand every point I am about to make about the character. When we first met Karev, he was a douchebag, an ahole, and a completely incompetent surgical intern. We would later learn from Lexie and her photographic memory that he had lied his way into one of the best surgical programs. But he was always a fighter—both  literally and figuratively. He failed his board exams, but never gave up; he kept pushing on. He had a vile upbringing with an abusive father, and had every reason to not aspire to anything in life. I mean, all around him was failure in the highest degree, but somehow he crawled out of the dark hole into something phenomenal; an attending pediatric surgeon.

I remember when it was time to get a fellowship, and Webber told him John Hopkins and SGMW both wanted him, he sat down and started to cry. Surprised at his reaction, Webber asked what the problem was. "No one has ever wanted me this way." He responded. Even as a doctor, so many things kept dragging him back. His brother was suddenly diagnosed with schizophrenia and then attempted to kill their sister, his junkie Dad suddenly showed up in the ER at his workplace and did not even recognize him, but somehow Karev managed to keep going. There is a Yoruba saying that literally means "it is from a black pot that a white cornmeal is produced".

Family is incredibly important, as I have always said. Unfortunately or fortunately, because fate chooses them for us, we have little bearing on how they turn out to be. They can be our greatest supporters, cheerleaders, and guide. Or they can be the source of our greatest downfall. Great for those of us whose families belong to the former. However, if you're unlucky that yours is in the latter, you've got to find a way to crawl out. They can drag you down, but don't stay down. It might not even be your family, it might be everything else. Ours is a generation of excuses. Lamar drowns in drugs while patronizing prostitutes, we blame the wife and her family. A sixty something year old man becomes a woman, we blame this same family. I would say it must suck to be a Kardashian but then again, their 18 year old owns a 2  million dollar mansion. It probably sucks not to be a Kardashian. I digress.

But yes, we love to blame others for our problems and give ridiculous excuses. But as we can see from Alex Karev, if life throws us lemons, we must grab them and make delicious lemonades. I know Karev is a fictional character, but art imitates life so I am certain there are many like him who have made something out of absolutely nothing. Karev's friends were rich, brilliant kids who had everything going on well for them, but that did not deter him. He gave it his all, and look where it landed him; a house of his own, and a great career.

I am just saying, if we are patient and persistent enough, I think we will do ok. It really does not matter if the odds are against you. Rise against those odds over and over again. Or at least try.


This is first in what I think I will keep doing; drawing inspiration and lessons from fictional characters. Maybe if I tell myself there is something to be learned from these shows, I will feel less guilty about spending so many hours watching them.

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