Television Top Trumps - Ellis Grey vs Sally Langston

Shonda Rhimes is often known as “she who breaks people’s hearts for the fun of it.” But she’s also “she who only seems to be aware of about 1% of all the available actors in the world.” We could do an entire series of Top Trumps just talking about all the people she’s recycled into different roles and by the time we’d run out she’d have shuffled them all round and we could start again. But while she’s busy doing that, this week is all about two of her Power Women; Ellis Grey from Grey’s Anatomy and Sally Langston from Scandal.


Ellis: You’d assume scrubs, but since she’s in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s when we meet her it’s mostly non-descript clothing and a bewildered expression. We do get a few flashbacks of her in some snazzy 80s clothing, although there’s always a disappointing lack of shoulderpads. Ellis Grey seems like a woman who could rock some shoulderpads. 5/10

Sally: There are no bewildered expressions here; it’s fierceness all the way. And some Power Suits, although the shoulderpads are disappointingly small. It’s all finished off with Scandal’s requisite Power Hair, for it is an unwritten rule of Rhimes’s Washington that the bigger your power, the bigger your hair. 7/10


Ellis: According to the flashbacks, she valiantly fought her way through prejudice and misogynists who thought women couldn’t be surgeons. But mostly she was just really good at chopping people up, and let’s face it, you don’t want to stand in the way of an indignant woman with a scalpel. 9/10

Sally: Sally did what all good Republican politicians do; she said some slightly batshit mental things and played to the Deep South. And they bloody loved her, but not enough to make her president. Because even America has its limits when it comes to putting total lunatics in power. 8/10


Ellis: Left her husband, got left by her lover, and then ended up reliving the whole thing years later through the Alzheimer’s. There’s also something about carousels, but that seems more of an overdone metaphor rather than anything that’s worth paying attention to. 2/10

Sally: She’s supposedly the model of family values and all that is good and proper. Except her husband’s secretly gay and she secretly hates him. But y’know, other than that it’s all good. 1/10


Ellis: Loves to save lives, although that’s possibly got more to do with how damn good it makes her look when she saves someone who everyone else thought was going to be entirely dead. But we probably shouldn’t quibble too much about motives. The medical community certainly didn’t; they just gave her a load of prizes instead. 9/10

Sally: She’s a God-fearing, abortion-hating, life-loving Southern Belle. Except that she killed her gay husband and then covered it all up. Murder’s totally justified if it gets you closer to the White House, right? 1/10


Ellis: Truly and utterly appalling. She managed to keep Meredith alive when she was a child, so gets some points for that. But they’re very grudging points, because Meredith becomes a mostly acceptable human almost entirely in spite of her mother, rather than because of her shining example. 2/10

Sally: Sally has the perfect family, and that of course means she has the perfect daughter. Except that her sweet little Southern Belle gets herself knocked up, and then gets an abortion with Momma’s blessing. They’re not so great at putting principles into action in this family, are they? Still, at least Sally’s supportive of her daughter when she needs it, so despite the hypocrisy she gets some points for that. 7/10


Ellis: Many, many medical breakthroughs that everyone fawns over. Plus a screwed up daughter, two destroyed marriages, and a pretty nice house that everyone in the show seems to live in at some point. And all those people who would’ve been dead without her. On balance she’s not done too badly. 7/10

Sally: In the terrifying alternate reality that is Scandal, Sally is briefly the first female President after the supposedly dreamy but actually a bit annoying President Fitz gets shot. As legacies go, you can’t really get much bigger than that. 9/10


In the battle of the Power Women, it’s Ellis who comes out on top with 34 points to Sally’s 33. Just imagine what she could’ve done with some shoulderpads. She might even have been able to perform life-saving surgery on Sally’s poor dead husband.

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