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Primetime Television Takes on Sickle Cell

October 19, 2015 by Andrea
Photo: Fox.com

Photo: Fox.com



Sickle cell disease awareness is finally getting more play during primetime! Within the past couple of weeks, SCD has been discussed on two major network shows: Grey's Anatomy and Scream Queens. Watched by millions of people each week -- and boasting a viewership right in the demographic sweet spot of ages 18-49 -- these shows have the ability to influence change and boost social consciousness. Here's how they did it:

Scream Queens
The third episode of this new, hit show's first season, entitled "Haunted House," aired on October 7, 2015, and within the first 12 minutes, they were already bringing up SCD. In a coffee shop scene featuring the characters Earl Grey (played by Lucien Laviscount) and Zayday Williams (played by Keke Palmer), the two chat about how the Greek system has a bad rep and may be obsolete in a decade or so if nothing changes for the better. Earl Grey thinks Zaday's bid for sorority house president could be that change. He suggests she throw a party as a fundraiser for a cause that's close to her heart. Her response? "Well, I would like to see sickle cell anemia eradicated in our lifetime." Her plan is to host a haunted house on Halloween to raise money for sickle cell disease "to show [she's] a serious candidate and it's not just a popularity contest." Watch the full episode here.

Grey's Anatomy
During the Oct. 15 episode of "Grey's," called "Old Time Rock and Roll," we see Dr. Stephanie Edwards (played by Jerricka Hinton) struggle with a new treatment plan for a recent brain surgery patient. The treatment involved getting the patient to walk a few steps from the bed to the chair -- only one day after her severe head trauma. The pain that the patient was going through proved too much for Stephanie to handle and we find out why in a quick backstory reveal: Stephanie had participated in a painful sickle cell clinical trial as a child and the treatment plan for the brain surgery patient brought up those memories. According to Variety, Jerricka actually pitched that back story to Shonda Rhimes, as Jerricka's cousin really did go through a painful SCD trial and grew up to become a doctor. Watch the full episode here.

It's so good to see network television tackling such a serious, often under-recognized disease and bringing it to light for millions of viewers who may not otherwise be exposed. The fact that these two shows found sickle cell important enough to spotlight in their own ways is a really good start and we hope that writers of other shows take their lead.

What do you think of the episodes? Tell us in the comments below!


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