Is There a Gray Area on 'Grey's Anatomy' About Adultery?

Let's be honest: Grey's Anatomy is a soap opera that happens to be set in a hospital, and viewers tune in for all the sudsy trappings. So you have to laugh when tonight's much vaunted cross-promotion with Private Practice is described as a medical imperative. Code red! Code red! Mark (Eric Dane) must call his ex-girlfriend, neonatal surgeon Addison (Kate Walsh), to assist him in a risky procedure on his pregnant daughter!

Well, maybe. But as the promos clearly demonstrate, the producers have another reason for these two to visit each other's shows: Yep. Forbidden, passionate sex.

Forbidden (or at least not advisable), because Mark is now in a relationship with Lexie (Chyler Leigh). And passionate because ... it's forbidden.

And apparently, it's going to be naughty thrills all around: "A lot of people do the deed," says Shonda Rimes in a TV Guide interview. She hints that married man Alex (Justin Chambers) will have a one-night stand with a character who has an 'e' in her first name. In other words, with Reed (Nora Zehetner), Lexie (Chyler Leigh), Callie (Sara Ramirez) or Meredith (Ellen Pompeo). (Since Callie is gay, and Meredith has already landed her soulmate, that leaves Reed or Lexie.)

As usual, Grey's serves up an ethical question. Here we have two adulteries, and two very different situations. Mark and Lexie aren't married, but their relationship is ostensibly stable and committed. Lexie probably thinks so. Is Mark free to stray, as long as he hasn't yet put a ring on her finger?

Alex is married, so his cheating is unequivocally adultery. But Grey's fansites are already buzzing with comments from fans defending his actions. After all, his wife Izzie (Katherine Heigl) has abandoned him physically and emotionally (though not legally). Some viewers say you can't blame him.

In real life, romantic relationships are supposed to be based on both sexual sparks and commitment -- in good times and bad. Right? Shows like Grey's Anatomy aren't meant to reflect real life; they are a means of escaping from it. The producers have set up these two adulteries in a parallel universe, where sexual sparks reign supreme, and the right thing to do is a matter of debate. 

Do I blame Alex for cheating on Izzie? Nah, he's just a made-up TV character. But if one of my actual friends cheated on his MIA wife? No way he's getting a free pass. Even if he's as hang-dog cute and sad-eyed as Alex is right now.

Plus: Grey's Anatomy: Why Do Men Love Mean Girls?

Are there ever circumstances where adultery is okay? Chime in below!

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