I was on the phone with Jack (my person, if you will) when I got the news. To say we were in shock is a complete understatement. There were real, actual tears on both ends.
Sandra Oh is retiring from Grey’s Anatomy.
If you’re going to ask impertinent questions like “Is that show even still on?” I’m going to have to stop you right there and ask you to read this Slate article that just brushes the surface of how Cristina Yang changed television. Now while you haters are busy, the rest of us will go on with our mourning process together.
As a young Asian-American career-focused woman, I couldn’t have asked for a better role model than Dr. Cristina Yang, M.D/Ph.D. She dreams big and won’t settle for anything less.
She makes ambition look good.
Despite being the most badass cardio resident the world has ever seen, Cristina’s personal life is, well… messy.
Have a complicated relationship with your mother? Cristina does, too.
But she has a decidedly uncomplicated relationship with food.
And she’s unafraid to admit what many of us are thinking during a holiday gathering.
Cristina’s love life has always been intrinsically linked to her professional life; she is often the recipient of criticism from her partners that she cares more about surgery than them. Personally, I think her priorities are just fine.
Okay, so besides her general obvious badassness, where’s the explicit RJ connection? [Here comes the spoilery part y’all] One of Cristina’s central storylines in later seasons of Grey’s is her relationship with trauma surgeon and later Chief of Surgery, Dr. Owen Hunt (portray by actor Kevin McKidd). As with basically all relationships in Grey’s, Owen and Cristina face many twists and turns: Owen attacks Cristina during a PTSD flashback, Owen’s BFF/former love interest becomes Cristina’s mentor, Cristina develops PTSD after Owen and her best friend’s husband are shot and she has to perform surgery with a gun pointed at her head… you know, the usual.
What becomes the biggest obstacle in their relationship, however, is something much more real and relatable to normal everyday folks. Cristina becomes pregnant unexpectedly. Despite the fact that she has been open with basically anyone who will listen that she doesn’t want to become a parent from season one, Owen attempts to convince her to carry the pregnancy to term.
After a lot of fighting (including Owen kicking Cristina out of their house when she schedules her abortion), Owen finally accepts Cristina’s choice. Or so it would seem…
They attempt to hash things out in couple’s therapy, but Owen refuses to accept that Cristina will never want children.
So how did they resolve it? Well, they try to make it work. He cheats on her. They get divorced. They get back together. They’re currently broken up again. With Sandra Oh leaving and Kevin McKidd likely staying, it is doubtful that they’ll ride off into the sunset together. Creator Shonda Rimes also reassured us: “Cristina Yang is not going to magically decide she wants babies, no.”
The question has been posed as to whether or not Grey’s can survive without Cristina, since many (including Rimes) say that the show is ultimately a love story between Cristina and her best friend, titular character Dr. Meredith Grey.
To be sure, Cristina is certainly an irreplaceable presence on the show.
And we’re hoping that she’ll at least show back up for the series finale when ABC finally pulls the plug on the show.
I realize that it’s probably unhealthy to be this emotionally invested in a character’s departure from a television show that’s been dragging itself out for almost a decade now.
In the meantime, I’ll be taking what is probably the best advice Cristina gave to a super whiny Meredith.
And I’ll take comfort in my people, fictional and real. Because people are what matter.
Sandra is already planning the OK4RJ Cristina Yang Farewell Party and buying stock in Kleenex. You can watch her slow downward spiral during the 10th season of Grey’s Anatomy on Twitter.