Almost everyone’s heard of Grey’s Anatomy, but not everyone’s heard of Private Practice. Or at least I hadn’t. A few months ago, I decided to binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy to see if all the hype was worth it. But the thing is, Grey’s Anatomy just finished its 17th season. So to say I have a lot of episodes to go is an understatement.
As of now, I’m about halfway through its tenth season. As much as I enjoy the show so far, the first few seasons are still my favorite. Unexpectedly, I found Dr. Addison Montgomery (formerly Shepard) to be my favorite character from the show. However, she leaves after the third season but fortunately, it’s to spinoff in her own show, Private Practice. So, naturally, I binge-watched all of Private Practice before finishing Grey’s Anatomy to fill that Addison-Montgomery-sized void I felt after she left.
A Quick Synopsis
Private Practice follows Dr. Addison Montgomery moving to Los Angeles to work alongside her former med school friends for a private medical practice. Hence the name of the show. In this practice, these doctors are cooperative so they discuss their work but they debate how they treat them. While I’m not sure how realistic that actually is, it, at the very least, makes the show much more interesting. Furthermore, the show’s about the relationships between this group of doctors and how that changes over the span of six seasons. Pretty much like all Shonda Rhimes shows, their dating lives are all over the place. And there’s a lot of overlap.
The practice, Oceanside Wellness Center (later Seaside Wellness Center), focuses on whole medicine, treating both their minds and bodies in a cooperative manner. The show does a great job when looking at controversial medical cases, especially when looking at both sides. The group’s usually split on a lot of these cases and watching them debate what’s right and wrong is compelling to watch. And it’s thought-provoking because they usually provide pretty strong cases on both sides of the argument.
While Addison remains the main character of the show, I’d still consider it as a show with an ensemble cast. And much like Grey’s Anatomy, each doctor has their own specialty. There’s Naomi, their fertility specialist and Sam is an internist as well as a cardiothoracic surgeon (though he doesn’t go back into surgery until later in the show). Cooper’s their pediatrician and they (later) have two psychiatrists, Violet and Sheldon. Charlotte’s the chief of staff at St. Ambrose Hospital but later comes to work with them as a urologist and sexologist. And there’s also Pete, their alternative medicine guru, who later switches to emergency medicine at the hospital. Then, Amelia (also Derek’s youngest sister) joins the show as a neurosurgeon. Last but not least, Jake comes onto the show after Naomi leaves as a fertility specialist.
But more importantly, every character’s flawed in their own way. After spending some time on the Private Practice subreddit, I’d say there are clear fan favorites and characters they strongly dislike. Many of which I agree with. But it is also part of why I love the show. The characters not only make mistakes but they’re also human, which makes it a much more realistic show.
Like I said, these characters’ love lives are all over the place. There’s Cooper and Charlotte who are constantly on-again-off-again. But they’re also the most consistent relationship in the show.
After they get married, Cooper finds out he has a son and their relationship only gets stronger from then on. The relationship between Charlotte, Mason, Cooper, and Erica (Mason’s mom) is beautiful. And the bond between Charlotte and Mason is the sweetest thing ever. I still tear up when Mason offers to call Charlotte “Mama”.
They’re not without their problems, but they’ve at least found a way to argue in a healthy way after they get married.
Then there’s Sam and Naomi, who used to be married but are never quite over each other. But Sam just decided one day to end his marriage (as we’re told) and he has a problem letting that go. Naomi even leaves for a season with another man.
But when she comes back for the last episode, it’s clear that there’s still something between Sam and Naomi. While the decision to put these two back together in the last episode was rushed, I think it was ultimately the right choice.
The other big relationship in the show (excluding Addison’s relationships) is Pete and Violet. Their relationship is complicated and they end up having a kid together. Not to mention Violet goes through a very big traumatic experience that further complicates things.
But their story is unfortunately cut short because Pete (spoiler alert) dies at the beginning of the last season. But I think that if they were to keep trying to work it out, Pete would need to agree to do therapy to figure it all out.
The Addison of it All
Then, of course, there’s Addison who goes through her fair share of relationships. Later, it becomes more evident that she wants a baby someday. Her most notable relationships on the show are with Kevin, Noah, Pete (yes, Violet’s Pete), Sam (yes, Naomi’s ex, Sam), and Jake. She dates Kevin because of how different he is compared to everyone else in her “world” and I think they made for a pretty good couple. Then, there was Noah, who was married to one of her patients. While they didn’t really have much of a relationship, it brought back Addison’s struggle with being a cheater. Then came Pete, which I think could’ve been something. But both of them were in love with other people. But Addison and baby Lucas was pretty cute.
With Sam, she felt like he was it for her but he ultimately didn’t want what she wanted: a baby. He already had a daughter (with Naomi) as well as a (spoiler alert) granddaughter and he didn’t want to do it all over again. I was never really a fan of their relationship but to each their own. Addison eventually gets her baby via adopting baby Henry and it’s the sweetest thing ever. But then, there’s Jake, who she ultimately ends up with. While we didn’t get to know him as well as everyone else (as he didn’t join the show until the end of the fourth season), he is by far the best fit for Addison. I would’ve liked to see more of them together but I’ll take what I can get.
While I enjoyed most of the storylines in the show, there are some standouts. The first one is Violet’s trauma and the aftermath in the third season. Afterward, she has trouble moving on and being a good mother and her journey in figuring it out is great. The decisions she makes may be controversial but I think she does the right thing. In the fourth season, someone violently rapes Charlotte, and KaDee Strickland’s acting chops really shine. Not only that, knowing how much research they all put into this storyline is incredible. In season five, Amelia struggles with her addiction as well as a tragic pregnancy.
But overall, I’d say the best parts of the show are the controversial cases. One of the big issues they talk and debate about is abortion. The way the show tackles complicated issues (like abortion) is graceful as it gives a good look at both sides. While there’s always one I (or any audience member for that matter) feel stronger about, I still think I get a good sense of how the opposing side feels. And that’s the beauty of Private Practice.
Let me know in the comments or tweet me @mzsnguyenthai if you’ve also seen the show and what your favorite episodes and/or moments from Private Practice are.