Grey’s Anatomy vs. ER Essay Sample

Grey’s Anatomy vs. ER Essay Sample

Now on its 12th season, “ER” remains to be one of television’s highest-rated dramas, as well as the #1 drama on NBC. The series “tracks the inners workings of County General Hospital, a Level One Trauma Center where heroic doctors and nurses are faced with life-and-death decisions on a daily basis” ( It was created in 1994 by bestselling author Michael Crichton.

Created by Shonda Rhimes in 2005 and with the tagline “Operations. Relations. Complications.”, “Grey’s Anatomy” is a comedy/drama which revolves around the personal and professional lives of five surgical interns and their supervisors in Seattle Grace Hospital ( The series’ title is a reference to the classic anatomy book “Gray’s Anatomy of the Human Body” written in 1918 by Henry Gray, and is also the name of a lead character, Dr. Meredith Grey. “Grey’s Anatomy” is patterned on the older medical drama “ER”, but provides a twist with its lighter, more comedic approach, while at the same time offering a story with more quirks, romance, and intense drama.

Cast and Characters

The medical dramas “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” both showcase a stellar cast of talented actors. Both shows began with casts of relative unknowns. Critics have praised the ensemble casting of “Grey’s Anatomy” for its impressive showcasing of hugely talented actors who have all made admirable work in projects that have not quite lived up to their talents. Sandra Oh, Justin Chambers, Katherine Heigl, Chandra Wilson, Patrick Dempsey, and T.R. Knight shine in this series which has provided them with well-written roles.

The original cast of “ER” included Anthony Edwards, Noah Wyle, Julianna Margulies, and Eric La Salle. However, it did include Hollywood star George Clooney, who left the show after five seasons. Another similarity between the two shows is the representation of racial diversity. Both shows have a multiracial cast, although “Grey’s Anatomy” showed more racial diversity in its first season than “ER” did in its first. Also, both shows revolve around the lives of medical personnel; however, “ER” is focused on a group of emergency room doctors and nurses while “Grey’s Anatomy” is centered on a group of first-year surgical residents and their superiors, as well as the relationships between.

Recognition, Ratings, and Accolades

Both “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy have received numerous awards and accolades since they were first aired. “ER” has been nominated for the Emmy Awards a total of 117 times and has won 23 Emmys including that for Outstanding Drama Series in 1996. It has also garnered four Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Ensemble Performance in a Drama Series, as well as numerous other awards and nominations. On the other hand, “Grey’s Anatomy” has received 13 Emmy nominations and 2 Golden Globe nominations. In 2006, Sandra Oh won the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Series and the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series.

The show has also won awards from the Writers Guild of America, the Image Awards, and the BMI Film & TV Awards, as well as nominations from various other award-giving bodies. Both “ER” and “Grey’s Anatomy” have maintained high Nielsen ratings. However, “ER” has already been a top-rated show for three years (‘95-‘96, ‘96-‘97, and ‘98-‘99) whereas “Grey’s Anatomy” has yet to achieve this honor. In 1995, “ER” received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award, a recognition that “Grey’s Anatomy”, being a relatively new show, has yet to match.


“Grey’s Anatomy” revolves around the lives of five surgical interns – first-year surgical residents fresh out of med school, that is. This makes the show seem like a cross between “ER” and a teen show – a coming-of-age drama where the characters are placed in the halls and operating rooms of a busy hospital instead of the sunny coast of California or a picturesque small town in Massachusetts. Because of the amount of angst involved in the story, there are times while watching “Grey’s Anatomy” when the show seems more like a soap opera than an actual medical drama. Some may argue that it does not have the level of realism that “ER” has, but “Grey’s Anatomy” portrays reality by tackling topics such as medical care in the country, euthanasia, the doctors’ everyday victories and defeats, and even some politics.

With its precarious balance between reality and whimsy, “Grey’s Anatomy” proves to be the more accessible of the two television shows. It is realistic enough not to play down the medical drama experience, but whimsical enough that the audience is not bored or bogged down with too much drama. The show presents more humor than “ER” does, but the relevant ethical and moral controversies are not left out. “Grey’s Anatomy” should remain as a staple with its viewers as long as its writers and producers are able to keep the audience interested in the “trials, tribulations, and trysts of the staff at Seattle Grace Hospital” (

Work Cited
IMDb, Inc. (2006).Grey’s Anatomy. International Movie Database. Retrieved on August 3,
2006 from <>.
NBC. (2006). ER. NBC. Retrieved on August 3, 2006 from <