Fans of Grey’s Anatomy may recognize the title….then again, maybe not. It is how Meredith described Alex once in an episode. He needed to study to pass the Board exams as he had failed them, and not one intern wanted to help him, and when Meredith said they had to, they all wanted to know why. Meredith’s answer? Because he is Dirty Uncle Sal…..and we all knew who she was talking about because we all have one. The relative who only shows up at holiday celebrations or summer cookouts, always empty handed; the one who is always drunk, loud and touching members of the opposite sex ( related or not) in inappropriate places. Dirty Uncle Sal is the relative no one can stand, but you put up with them because they are family, and on the surface, it describes Dr. Alex Korev perfectly.
I am a diehard Grey’s fan…even when Burke left and it got a little stupid with tons of extraneous characters. Alex ranks in my Top 5 of fave characters and he always has. First, the man is HOT. Seriously. He makes me want to take up a diet and exercise program. We all know Derek is McDreamy and Mark is McSteamy …what most don’t know ( except for The Girlfriend and I ) is that Alex is McHottie. Secondly, he is honest, real and just lays it on the line. He told Meredith to her face that she needs to stay in a relationship….ANY relationship or get professional help because when her life gets sucky, she drinks too much and sleeps with inappropriate men. He is a womanizer, yet for him, it isn’t just with any woman. Does anyone remember when Addison ( his boss) was looking at him in “that way”, and they shared a kiss? Addison thought it would lead to more ( hot sex at the very least) but Alex told her he was not into her, and he only returned her kiss because she is his boss. If the boss wanted him to kiss her, sex her, whatever…..he would to keep her happy, and in turn, keep his job. Yet, his brutal honesty is all a mask to cover the hurt he has endured his entire life.
Alex ( to me) suffers from low self-confidence and low self-esteem. He was and is the sole support for his mother and baby brother; his father was an abusive alcoholic or womanizer or something that rendered him unfit to raise the family he created and Dad is pretty much out of the picture. Alex has never felt as if he belonged at Seattle Grace….Christina is naturally smart as two whips and incredibly focused on her goals; Meredith’s mom is a legend at Seattle Grace and Meredith practically grew up in the hospital ; George ( before he died) came across as bumbling and not quite all there, but when the going got tough, George was the man to pull it through and Izzy…..beautiful, former model and could hold her own in the OR with the best of them. Alex…..failed the boards, grew up poor and had to fight from Day 1 to be taken seriously. His blunt honesty, his blasé attitude was his mask to cover the insecurities. Alex fell victim to the syphilis epidemic in Season 1, got into an awesome fight with George because Alex passed the syphilis to George’s girlfriend who then passed it on to George (George kicked that ass!) and that was the start of a long standing rivalry. Alex fell for Izzy, cheated on her with Olivia ( she was George’s girlfriend) and after a lot of tears and arguing, they reconciled….only for Izzy to leave Alex for Denny….a heart patient for whom Izzy fell so hard for, she pretty much lost her mind, dammed near her job and implicated EVERYONE involved. Denny died, Izzy broke down…..and Alex was there for her. They eventually reconciled but not before Izzy slept with George and gushed all about the sex and the feelings she had for George with Alex…..and Alex told her: You KNOW how I feel about you, you know what we had together. If you think I am one of your chick friends who actually CARES about you and George, you are mistaken, so tell it to someone else. The pain and hurt that came across made me want to kick Izzy’s unfeeling, ignorant butt.
See, in spite of his mask of being all penis and swagger, Alex had never actually allowed himself to feel for a woman. Alex was the walking definition of a one night stand. He did not want to get hurt, and Izzy…..being beautiful, sexy, intelligent and fun….would be the one to hurt him. Izzy was out of his league, he knew it and how in the world she could care for him was a cruel joke that would blow up in his face eventually. The thought of being with Izzy scared him so much, on their first dale he could not even kiss her. Izzy was bewildered, hurt and ready to kick ass. Alex pursued HER, then left her standing on the front porch in her pretty new dress unkissed and wondering what the hell was wrong with her. He cheated on her, talked down to her and basically treated her like crap before, during and after their relationship yet, he was always there for her. When Denny died, he was the one who picked her up , carried her to a chair and held her. He kept quiet about everything that happened during the Denny incident (when she lost her mind the first time around) to protect her. He loved her in spite of his innate fear of rejection and hurt, and wanted to get it right with her. Other women meant nothing, and Izzy brought out good qualities in him. He could only reveal his hopes, dreams and vulnerable side to Izzy. His love for Izzy allowed him to drop at least one of his masks long enough to pursue a career in pediatrics versus plastic surgery. Then Izzy hurt him and kept hurting him, and the pain he felt came across as harsh and cruel, but still…..he could not stop loving her. Then, Izzy feel ill with cancer and he saw it all slipping away and made his move. He and Izzy married, and tried for the happily ever after but Izzy felt she was holding him back….she was sick, could not be a surgeon and felt she was incomplete and a burden. Arguments ensued…constantly and she left him. She DID return, but Alex…..had had enough and told her to stay gone. Izzy is gone now ( where, we have no idea) yet, he loves her still but the Dirty Uncle Sal persona is back. He is a hardened womanizer who now has a bullet in his chest.
How many of us are Alex Korev? How many of us cover the past hurts and wounds with hurtful honesty and risky sexual behavior? How many of us cover our feelings of low self-esteem and self-confidence with snarky comments? Who out there covers their inadequacies by pointing out others weaknesses? How many of us mask our love for another for fear of getting hurt, and have given up on our happily ever after because you just have no more to give and you just can’t take that risk yet again? Who thinks that they are okay and have moved on past their one great love because they are able to go through the motions of having sex with people whose names they cannot remember and have figurative bullets in their chest, so that makes them tough? How many of us , like Alex, have “had enough crazy for one lifetime”? How many of us ARE the Dirty Uncle Sal? I say we all are…we all have an Inner Alex. He may be tamped down, locked in a closet or running rampant in our lives but if you have lived, if you have loved…..you know who Alex is and you can’t help but feel for him.