Ellen Pompeo said ‘people of color are magical’ — but Denzel is a ‘motherfucker’
The black experience is not intended to have fandom, just equality
“People of color are magical,” Ellen Pompeo said on an episode of “Red Table Talk” at the 12:44 mark. She went on to describe POCs as “mystical and powerful and beautiful and spiritual and strong and excellent at what they do.”
I’m guessing her views of being a “fan” of the “black experience” were supposed to be complimentary, but I could feel smoke blowing through my ears and nose. The more she talked, the more annoyed I became. At one point, my eyes rolled so far into the back of my head that I had to pull them off my shoestrings. That “Red Table Talk” interview just never sat right with me. Something in the nonstop gushing felt condescending, like she was playing to the hosts — Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith and Adrienne “Gammy” Banfield-Norris. I’d stopped regularly watching “Grey’s Anatomy” several years ago.
Every blue moon, I’d pop in to see an episode in which Ellen Pompeo’s character Meredith Grey should’ve had her medical license suspended or been in prison. But nope, she was on the show cursing out her bosses and “saving” people in jail. As co-executive producer of the show, I gather no one would tell Ellen Pompeo this nonstop cape crusade felt forced.
The past decade worth of “Grey’s Anatomy” episodes feel like the throwaway scenes in “Dangerous Minds” — the ones even Coolio would decline for a rap soundtrack. But that “magical” comment (along with her salivating to have black boys in her family pool) bothered me in a way I couldn’t put my finger on at the time. One point kept popping into my head about her comments: Black people are not out here trying to be the world’s form of entertainment or for your fandom. While some of us are entertainers, I don’t like that descriptor.
Was I being too sensitive? I wasn’t sure. But both that interview and every scene with her obnoxious, know-it-all character Meredith Grey would take me right back to scowling at the TV. The clear-out-of-nowhere interracial babies didn’t help matters. They always had “magical” babysitters whenever she forgot she was a mother and became a TV superhero again. I tapped out on this show and still haven’t figured out why ABC didn’t.
The Denzel comment that let me know I wasn’t wrong
In the fall of 2021, here came Katie Couric 2.0 to prove I’m not paranoid. There was something “off” about Ellen Pompeo. It’s the kind of thing I saw far too often in Corporate America. It’s pandering about how black people are “magical” — until we disagree with someone white. It’s what Erika Stallings talked about with black employees being the “office pet.”
If you haven’t listened to Ellen Pompeo’s podcast, Patrick Dempsey asked her what it was like to be directed by the “amazing” and “iconic” Denzel Washington on an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” (“The Sound of Silence” episode aired in February 2016.) She responded by telling a story about how she yelled an unscripted line to an actor. The line was, “Look at me when you apologize. Look at me.” Denzel Washington apparently didn’t care for her going off script. According to Ellen Pompeo, “Denzel went ham on my ass. He was like, ‘I’m the director. Don’t you tell him what to do.’”