Brooke Smith, Grey's Anatomy

My two cents on the unexpected news that Brooke Smith is being written out with undue haste from Grey's Anatomy: No one comes out of this looking good. What is it with this show's inability to let characters exit Seattle Grace with dignity? (And yes, that's a not-so-subtle reference to Isaiah Washington's Dr. Burke.)

If network or studio execs are the cause of this sudden retreat from the show's clumsily handled lesbian storyline between panicky Callie (Sara Ramirez) and socially awkward Erica (Smith), it looks like an indefensible case of corporate gay panic. But it's hard to argue on the show's behalf, because the writers are also to blame for trapping these strong female characters in one of the most ridiculously off-putting storylines of the season.

Off-putting not because two characters were made aware of an emerging new sexual identity, but because of how sniggering and immature the portrayal of this awakening was — especially in the case of Callie, who hopped in and out of McSteamy's bed like an oversexed Goldilocks, as she tried to ease her anxiety about straying below the sexual Mason-Dixon line. Even by Grey's and Seattle Grace's loose standards, this was a graceless and ick-inducing way to broach a delicate subject. It got to the point the last few weeks that when either Callie or Erica appeared on screen in anything but an operating-room setting, groans erupted in my household and more than one person reached for the "mute" button.

Now ABC has seemingly taken care of that situation, but in a ham-fisted and unpleasant way. The question that remains: Is Callie a lost cause, dramatically speaking? Her union with George was laughable, her trysts with Sloan eye-rollingly coy, and her ill-fated fling with Erica one long cringe. Can this character, who is an admirable departure from TV's usual fixation on rail-thin glamazons, be saved, and can she continue exploring her sexual orientation without trivializing it? I'm not so sure even a miracle worker like Bailey could fix this mess.