Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Lori Roscoe, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Keith Berry, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Aisha Durham, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Rust, Ph.D.


Death, Documentary Realism, Media, Melodrama, Television


In this qualitative study, I analyze three episodes of the prime-time television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy to explore how the show stages conversations of end of life. I extend the work of end of life ethicists with attention to the ways that media may/should/could be used to teach and reflect issues of dying in America. Performing a close textual analysis, I identified two modes of storytelling within the structure of these episodes: Documentary Realism and Melodrama. I argue that if we are to understand medical dramas as a tool for the dissemination of information about end of life ethics, we must understand that they speak to the audience in ways which value the perspective of the physicians, holding a torch for how emotions are played out on the faces of the protagonists, but through the bodies of the patients who are brought in to be wounded in each episode.