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Carolin Oltmann

on 27 January 2014

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Transcript of Intersex

in TV Series

1. Introduction
Dr. House
– 'Deep Skin' Content and
Dr. House
– 'The Softer Side' Content
and Focalization
4. Aspect of 'Informed Consent'
5. Power Relations: 'Deep Skin' and
'The Softer Side'

Grey’s Anatomy
: 'Begin the
Begin' Content and Focalization
7. Power Relations:
Grey’s Anatomy

8. Comparison of Content and
Power Relations
9. Conclusion

intersexuality current in
modern TV series
many tv series like
Dr. House,
Emergency Room, Grey’s
etc. deal with the topic
of intersex and hermaphroditism
our focus:
informed consent

Dr. House - Deep Skin Content
patient: 15-year-old teenage supermodel (Alex)
symptoms: nausea, double vision and disorientation
girl is suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder
--> father has sexually abused her

patient: 13-year-old boy named Jackson collapses after playing in a basketball game
was born intersex
parents decided to raise their child as a boy and lately began giving him testosterone, disguised as "vitamins"
Dr. House -
The Softer Side Content

"Deep Skin"

until early 1970’s patients could not decide about their medical treatment
doctors were seen as medical experts
doctor-patient relationship was unequal

4. Aspect of
Informed Consent
1977 Clinton appointed the Advisory
Commission on Consumer Protection and
Quality in the Health Care Industry:
1. right to complete information about the
2. right to emergency care based on what a
prudent layperson would regard as an
3. right to confidentiality in the handling of
medical information
4. right to respectful and nondiscriminatory

Informed consent
briefly means that the patient has the right to decide about his treatment on his own, while the doctor has to provide him information about his situation and treatment.

Also everyone has the right to emergency care.

5. Power Relations:
The Softer Side

6. Grey’s Anatomy:
'Begin the Begin' Content
6. Focalization: Grey’s Anatomy

7. Power Relations: Grey’s Anatomy

Thirteen has been sympathizing with Jackson --> forces parents to tell their son the truth about his genetic condition

MRI of Alex's pelvic area --> Alex has male pseudohermaphroditism and the tumor is located in the testes
surgical removal of the tumor is set
also consult with a psychiatrist for Alex to cope with the discovery of the complicated nature of her sex
Dr. House - Deep Skin Content
2. Dr. House -
Deep Skin Content
3. Dr. House -
The Softer Side Content
Dr. House -
The Softer Side Content
Deep Skin, Scene 1

Who is shown: doctors
(Dr. House, Cameron)

What is shown: model lying in MRI,
doctors in front of
computers, looking at
MRI pictures

Deep Skin, Scene 2

Who is shown: Dr. House, father, patient

What is shown: patient (pale) in bed, father
next to her, Dr. House enters
room, stands in the door
and insensitively explains
what caused girl’s
The Softer Side, Scene 1

Who is shown: parents after birth, doctor, baby

What is shown: doctor in times of John Money
explains situation to new parents,
talks carefully / neutral /
empathetic; parents are shocked,
confused, overchallenged, not
grasping what doctor tries to tell
The Softer Side, Scene 2

Who is shown: team of doctors, parents

What is shown: team of doctors discussing,
guessing possible diseases;
Dr. House listening
arrogantly; after discussion
parents enter room and ask
for a MRI , House allows
parents wish

The Softer Side, Scene 3

Who is shown: Dr. House, Patient, Parents

What is shown: Dr. House explains what
caused boy's collapse and
that intersexuality has
not been the reason for
boy’s symptoms

younger doctors --> informed consent
older doctors respect parent's instructions
Dr. House: insensitive and offensive (exaggeration of John Money)
in Grey's Anatomy doctors are more sensitive
first IS episode of Dr. House in 2006, second in 2009
Grey's Anatomy episode in 2006
however, both are no perfect representations of intersex and hermaphroditism
Begin the Begin, Scene 1

Who is shown: O'Malley, Dr. Shepherd

What is shown: O'Malley gets called in the
laboratory where Dr.
Shepherd explains him
that 'patient is a
hermaphrodite', O'Malley
is shocked, speechless but
not disgusted
Begin the Begin, Scene 2

Who is shown: Parents, O'Malley, Shepherd and
Patient behind glass door

What is shown: Parents ask doctors to remove
her daughters' testicles while
removing the tumor, doctors are
strictly against doing this
without their patients' informed
Begin the Begin, Scene 3

Who is shown: O'Malley, Shepherd, parents,

What is shown: Patient gets to know her
sexual situation and
parents get angry at Dr.
O'Malley for not letting
them decide when to tell
Bex about her
Bex has a tumor
ultrasound shows that she has testes
parents are informed
consult Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd to ask her to remove male sexual organs
Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd: 'I just would never do that on someone who isn’t aware of the procedure' --> is convinced of informed consent
Dr. O'Malley struggles with the fact, that the patient herself is not informed about results
Bex seems to be confused about her identity
in the end parents are forced to tell Bex the truth, when O'Malley hesitates to lie to her

'The Softer Side'
Informed Consent
Informed Consent
Informed Consent
5. Power Relations: Deep Skin
Dr. House
(old Doctor,
John Money)
Dr. Cameron
(young Doctor)
high authority due
to medical knowledge,
against informed consent
trusts Dr. House
abused her,
is now disgusted by
her otherness
seeks love / fatherly care;
dependent in terms of career
medical treatment,
only confidential person,
cares for her
Dr. House
(old Doctor,
John Money)
Dr. 'Thirteen'
(young Doctor,
pro informed consent)
against informed consent
no interaction
overprotective, but loving
against informing Jackson
first: trust
then: anger
entrusts himself to her,
befriends her
cares for him in a
friendlike way
Dr. Montgomery-Shepherd
(old doctor,
pro informed
Dr. O'Malley
(young doctor,
pro informed consent)
authorized doctor
dependent on
medical treatment
try to decide her fate,
authority figures, protective
no family bond,
not really involved with them
friendlike manner
intimate relation,
Grey's Anatomy -
Begin the Begin Content
Grey's Anatomy -
Begin the Begin Content
9. Conclusion
8. Comparison
of Content

in both series hermaphroditism is detected by accident
--> intersex is not the reason for diseases
in none of the series parents agree to inform their child
both series include a doctor, who respects the parent's instructions and a doctor, who rebels against the fact, that parents hold more power than the patient --> due to rights of the legal guardians
8. Comparison
of Power Relations
in both series the parents are against informing their child in order to protect them --> in hierachy children are positioned at the bottom
Dr. House: older doctor against informed consent, respect parents' instructions
Grey's Anatomy: older doctor pro informed consent, respects parents' instructions
both: younger doctors vehemently insist on informing patient --> informed consent

8. Comparison of Content
and Power Relations
Full transcript