If you’ve ever had an opportunity to watch ABC’s hit series, Grey’s Anatomy, there’s a strong chance you’re familiar with the leading lady’s intelligent, ambitious, and often tactless best friend, Dr. Cristina Yang.
In a role that has elevated Sandra Oh’s career to new heights, Yang not only represents one of few Asian-American regular characters to appear on primetime television, she is also one of very few to be outspoken and 100% committed to her choice to live childfree.
Yang’s stance on the subject comes at a pivotal point in societal times where childfree choice experts continue to fight for proper education and representation of what it truly means to be childfree.
“I feel like Cristina— who does not represent a classic or traditional female character that we see on television— is really essential to the movement to where we are as women. A woman isn’t only defined by her career and a woman is not only defined by her role as a mother and a wife either… I do like the differences between Cristina and Meredith because you get to see multiple facets of the choices that women can make.”
Those are the words of Sandra Oh, after announcing that this current season of Grey’s Anatomy would indeed be her last as a regular. That marks 10 seasons in which, a lead supporting character, nominated for multiple Emmy’s, Golden Globes, NAACP’s, Satellites’, and Screen Actors Guild awards, has spent in front of the world, remaining true to the very essence that makes her special: a successful, snarky, loving doctor and friend who does not want children.
Does this mean Dr. Cristina Yang does not like children? Not necessarily. While she’s made snide remarks about children in the past, most notably, “Its [referencing a baby] small features and over-sized eyes trigger a hormonal response in humans. It’s autonomic. It’s what keeps us from eating them,” (S07E19) her remarks accurately reflect the distant attitude she exhibits towards patients in general. In fact, she has spent many scenes babysitting her best friend, Dr. Meredith Grey’s, infant daughter. A child that Grey appointed Yang legal guardian of should anything ever happen to her and her husband, Derek Shepherd. Also, a child that Yang has repeated enjoyed spending time with. The show has even pushed the envelope, challenging Yang’s commitment to her childfree choice.
In season 8, after learning of her pregnancy with husband, Owen Hunt, Yang doggedly fights and eventually terminates her pregnancy despite potential risk of losing her marriage as well. Her choice was not because she feared she would be a bad mother or the baby would take away from her career, but because she did not want to bring a child into the world that she knew she wouldn’t be able to love. A gut-wrenchingly honest statement that stayed true to her character.
As the season draws ever closer to an end, it remains unclear how Shonda Rhimes, the show’s creator, will phase out Cristina Yang but Rhimes assures that her stance to remain dedicated to a childfree life will in no way be sacrificed.
Have you watched this show? What do you think of how childfree Yang’s character has been portrayed?