“I think you’re either born simple or you’re not. I want to be the person who gets happy over finding the perfect dress. I want to be simple because no one holds a gun to the head of a simple girl.”
It’s been a tough season viewers when it comes to beloved characters on long running TV shows. This season alone we said goodbye to Pierce Hawthorne and Troy Barnes on Community, as well as Ann Perkins and Chris Traeger on Parks and Recreation (though knowing Parks, we’ll probably see them again in the final season). I will never get over how The Good Wife was able to pull off what it did with one of its principals (LOOK AT ME NOT SPOILING IT). And tonight, after ten seasons of brilliant work by Sandra Oh, Grey’s Anatomy bids farewell to the one and only Cristina Yang.
Sandra Oh’s exit from the show was announced at the end of last summer. On hearing the news, I instantly thought “Well this must be the last year of Grey’s then.” Of course then it was announced that most of the principal cast had re-upped their contracts. Grey’s Anatomy remains one of ABC’s ratings behemoths. It’s not going anywhere. But my sentiment applies…I don’t know how Grey’s Anatomy is going to be Grey’s Anatomy without Cristina Yang. I suspect that Shonda is maneuvering to have Caterina Scorsone’s Amelia Shepherd join the cast full-time next season but it won’t be the same. We’re losing one half of the Twisted Sisters and there will be a gaping hole in the SGMH staff.
I do appreciate the way she is being written off though (unless Shonda is planning on literally throwing her under a bus tonight, as she did with George O’Malley). Cristina Yang has outgrown Sloan-Grey Memorial Hospital. One could argue, given the whole Harper Avery debacle, that SGMH is holding her back. It’s time for her to go so she can flourish in her field. She’s going to take over the world when she moves to Zürich.
So instead of being sad about her leaving (though my television will be sadder without Oh’s acting on it every week), let’s celebrate just what makes Cristina Yang so awesome, shall we?
1) Her Competitiveness
If there is one thing that I have in common with Cristina, it’s her competitive fire. Cristina Yang doesn’t play to participate, she plays to WIN, be it a competitive eating contest with her fellow interns or the race for the sparkle pager. She’s not afraid to
berate INSPIRE her teammates if her team is losing. She’s not afraid to play dirty in the name of winning. She is a sore loser and an even sorer winner.
I am Cristina and Cristina is me.
2) Her Confidence
Part of what fuels Cristina’s competitiveness is the fact that she is the best and she is fully confident in her knowledge of that. She knows that while many people are threatened by her confidence and call her arrogant, that arrogance is what she needs to be a great surgeon. All great surgeons, she learns from her mentors, are arrogant. And it’s a lesson she passes on to HER students as her career progresses. The gift that keeps on giving.
Cristina: You’re a shark.
Shane: I’m not, I swear.
Cristina: Ross, it’s a good thing. All great surgeons are sharks. You see what you want. Do whatever it takes to get it…like me. Don’t ever apologize. Sharks never apologize.
3) Her Appreciation of Food
Cristina is never afraid to express her basest desires, and for that we should all respect her.
4) She Remains True to Herself
Cristina has always known who she is and what she wants. She is a slob who goes and buys new underwear rather than do laundry. She is a surgeon and she is going to be the best in her field and she refuses to let anything stand in the way of reaching her goals. She came close to a complete compromise when she nearly married Burke and his mother took her eyebrows. She was very much compromising herself to make him happy and to maintain the relationship, which is why her wept “I’m free” after he leaves is so powerful. After that, she never compromises herself again, often at great personal cost. Her steadfastness in not wanting children (down to her having an abortion after getting pregnant by her HUSBAND) ultimately wrecked her relationship with Owen. She has often been criticized for holding firm to her desire to not have a family…but I find it admirable. It takes an abundance of strength to stay true to yourself and Cristina Yang has that in spades.
5) Her Dancing Skills
I really should utilize Meredith and Cristina’s “Dance it out” philosophy more often. I bet I would be a lot healthier emotionally. The best part of this way of coping with emotional crises is the way that Cristina dances with total abandon. It’s the embodiment of “dancing like no one is watching” (did I make you just vomit from cheesiness? Sorry!).
The moment when Burke walks in on Cristina having her own dance party while brushing her teeth is one of my favorite moments of their relationship. Burke walks in on Cristina working it like she is practicing for her So You Think You Can Dance audition and stands looking at her in bewilderment. She pauses as if to say “What? I’ve got skills!”. And then uptight, always by the book Preston Burke joins her dance party. His dance moves are so hilariously goofy you can’t help but grin at your television.
6) Her Emotional Ineptitude
Don’t get me wrong when I say ineptitude. I’m not saying Cristina has no emotions. It’s quite the opposite in fact. Cristina is a HIGHLY emotional person, she just maintains a VERY tight control of them. She’s an unabashed control freak. She prides herself on that fact. But keeping such a firm grip on your emotions can lead to SPECTACULAR breakdowns and Cristina’s eventual meltdowns have been some of the most shining moments on the show. Her “SOMEBODY SEDATE ME” crying jag after she finally lets herself feel the loss of her ectopic pregnancy and fallopian tube is one of the most iconic moments of the show. As is her solo tear when she is called into Richard’s office as he questions all of the interns about just what happened in Denny Duquette’s hospital room when the LVAD wire was cut.
CRISTINA: “How do you keep your edge, sir? Because I’ve watched you and you’ve been doing this a long time and you’re clean, you’re focused, you are the job. Nothing gets to you. And the thing is sir, I was like that, until I got here. Until I actually started doing this job and now everything is… is fuzzy and-“
RICHARD: “That’s beside the point.”
CRISTINA: “No, you see sir, this is the point. Because I can’t tell you. I can’t tell you what happened in that room. And before, I could have. No guilt, no loyalties, no problem. Before, before I wouldn’t have even been in that room. I wouldn’t have gotten involved. I would have never frozen in surgery. I would have told him what I thought he should do. I had an edge sir. I had an edge and I’ve lost it, and I need it. I need it back. So, if you could just tell me, how you keep yours and how not to be affected, I know I could be a great surgeon. So if you could just give me the answers, I would really appreciate it.”
Cristina handles emotional duress by dancing it out, by going down to the morgue and singing “Like a Virgin” as she does autopsies, and by going to the dollar store and buying junk while her best friend is dying. She scrubs in for surgery on Thanksgiving and she scrubs in for surgery on her wedding day rather than deal with the emotions of the day. Her fear of vulnerability is SO real and SO human and it is always a catharsis for both her and the audience when she finally lets go of everything she’s been holding in. Try to NOT have and emotional reaction in the episode where she goes fishing with Derek and finally FINALLY comes to terms with her PTSD as she holds her giant catch. If you don’t feel SOME sort of release when that happens…something is wrong with you.
7) She Tells It Like It Is
Cristina is best known for her abrasiveness and her sardonic wit. She is never one to mince words. She doesn’t see the point in doing so. YOu don’t go to Cristina Yang for comfort and flowery words of comfort. You go to Cristina Yang to stone cold honesty. She never holds back…not even with her best friend.
CRISTINA: “What? I’m being supportive.”
CRISTINA: “Yeah, this is me being totally supportive. Go on.”
MEREDITH: “Okay. The man I love has a wife and then he chooses her over me. Then the wife takes my dog. Well, she didn’t actually take my dog. I gave it to her. But I didn’t mean to give it to her, I meant to give it to him, and that doesn’t change the fact that she’s got Derek. And my McDog. She’s got my McLife! What have I got? I can’t even remember the last time we kissed. Because you never think the last time is the last time. You think you have forever, but you don’t. Plus my conditioner decided to stop working and I think I have brittle bones. I need something to happen. I just need a sign. I need a reason to go on. I need some hope, and in the absence of hope, I need to stay in bed and feel like I might die today.”
CRISTINA: [pauses, then drags Meredith out of bed] “Whatever. Everybody has problems. Get your ass out of bed and get to work. NOW! Move, move, move!”
So MUCH of Cristina’s wit is in the wry, almost monotone way Sandra Oh delivers her one liners. Sure she’s abrasive, but she delivers it with a hint of love. Basically, she IS the embodiment of “tough love”. Can we discuss how she NEVER won an Emmy for this role? It’s CRIMINAL. Fear not, Sandra. You are in FINE company with Steve Carell, Hugh Laurie, Neil Patrick Harris, and the entire cast of Mad Men for being criminally overlooked.
8) She Knows How to Cope On Holidays and Special Events
Everyone knows the importance of alcohol at forced social situations with your co-workers. Especially when those situations involve sports.
9) Have I Mentioned She’s A BAD ASS HEART SURGEON?
I don’t really need to say anything more than that. She’s a bad ass lady surgeon in a field dominated by men. HERO.
10) Her Love Affair With Meredith Grey
Screw Meredith and McDreamy. The true love story and OTP of Grey’s Anatomy are Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey. The “Twisted Sisters” are one of the best and most fully formed depictions of female friendship on televsion…possibly ever. They have been through the wringer with each other. They have survived every form of disaster, both man-made and natural, and they’ve done it together. They have been in direct career competition and have spurred each other to greatness. They have drunk their weight in tequila together. They have laughed, danced, and had countless sleepovers. They’ve been their for each others successes and failures. They have fought and they have grown apart as their life paths have diverged. But…they have always found their way back to each other in the end. Because that’s what happens when someone is your “person”.
CRISTINA: “Why can’t you just mind your own business, you know? What is your problem?”
MEREDITH: “You’re my sister. You’re my family. You’re all I’ve got.”
CRISTINA: “I’m so tired.”
MEREDITH: “I know. Me too.”
Cristina: The clinic has a policy. They wouldn’t let me confirm my appointment unless I designated an emergency contact person. Someone to be there is case and…to know help me home after. Anyway I put your name down, that’s why I told you I’m pregnant. You’re my person.
Meredith: I am?
Cristina: Yeah, you are. Whatever.
Cristina: He dumped me.[Meredith hugs Cristina] You realize this constitutes hugging?
Meredith: Shut up, I’m your person.
Like I said in the intro, I don’t know what Grey’s Anatomy will be without this core relationship. To make a comparison, Ann Perkins was Leslie Knope’s best friend…but that relationship was never the FOUNDATION of Parks and Recreation. This relationship IS. Meredith and Cristina are the heart and soul of Grey’s Anatomy and I can’t BELIEVE we have to say goodbye to her.
PLEASE DON’T KILL HER, SHONDA.
I’ll just leave this fan-vid here. Share your feels in the comments!