|Grey's Anatomy character|
Jessica Capshaw as Dr. Arizona Robbins
|First appearance||"Wish You Were Here"
5x11, January 8, 2009
|Created by||Shonda Rhimes|
|Portrayed by||Jessica Capshaw|
|Title||Head of Pediatric Surgery
|Romances||Callie Torres (girlfriend)|
Arizona Robbins is a fictional character on the ABC television series Grey's Anatomy, portrayed by Jessica Capshaw. She was introduced in the show's fifth season as an attending surgeon and the new head of pediatric surgery. Originally contracted to appear in three episodes, Capshaw's contract was extended to the remainder of the fifth season, with her becoming a series regular in the sixth season. This promotion saw her become the only lesbian series regular on primetime TV.
Arizona has a "quirky" personality, and a costume designed to appeal to her young patients, including roller shoes and a Holly Hobbie pink scrub cap. She was established as a love-interest for orthopedic resident Callie Torres, whose previous girlfriend Erica Hahn was written out of the show earlier in the season due to a lack of chemistry between the two. Series creator Shonda Rhimes was in contrast pleased with the chemistry between Arizona and Callie, citing the addition of Capshaw as Arizona as an element of the season of which she was most proud.
Media reaction to the character was largely positive. Matt Mitovich of TV Guide described Arizona as a "fan favorite", and Chris Monfette for IGN praised the addition of "fresh, new characters" Arizona and Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd) over the course of the season. However, Dorothy Snarker for AfterEllen.com admitted reservations towards the coupling of Arizona and Callie, due to the show's previous treatment of lesbian characters culminating in abrupt dismissal of Erica.
Following the death of Dr. Jordan Kenley (John Sloman) of a heart attack during an examination of one of his patients, Chief Webber (James Pickens, Jr.) replaces his head of pediatric surgery with Dr. Arizona Robbins, who graduated top of her class and was chief resident during her residency. She is initially disliked by Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson), who disagrees with her treatment of a patient, however after seeking a second opinion, Bailey realizes that Arizona is correct. Working alongside Arizona, she later develops an interest in pursuing pediatric surgery as a specialty.
Arizona has a romantic interest in orthopedic resident Callie Torres (Sara Ramírez), and kisses her in the episode "Beat Your Heart Out". However, when Callie asks her on a date and mentions that it would only be her second relationship with a woman, Arizona declines due to her inexperience. She later apologizes, and asks Callie to dinner. The two begin dating, but when Callie's father (Héctor Elizondo) learns of the relationship, he threatens to cut her off financially unless she returns home with him. Callie refuses to leave Seattle or Arizona, sacrificing her relationship with her father. Callie struggles to adapt to the loss of her family and trust fund, and briefly contemplates lying that she and Arizona have broken up. Although Arizona states that she will support Callie whatever she decides, Callie ultimately opts not to deny their relationship. Callie comes close to breaking up with Arizona as she struggles with her new financial restraints, however they later reconcile and sleep together for the first time. When Callie's ex-husband George O'Malley (T.R. Knight) announces his intention to join the US Army and leave for Iraq as a trauma surgeon, Arizona is the only staff member to support his choice. Callie is initially angry, until Arizona explains that her brother was a soldier and died in Iraq. Arizona tells Callie she loves her in Season 6, episode 8, Invest in Love, and Callie says she loves her as well.
When Callie's father returns to Seattle and continues to reject his daughter's sexuality, Arizona is able to convince him to reconsider. She explains that her father and grandfather were both in the military, and that she was named after the USS Arizona which sunk in the Pearl Harbor attack, during which her grandfather saved nineteen lives before drowning. She tells Mr. Torres that her father was able to accept her own sexuality as she promised him she was still the "good man in a storm" he raised her to be, and that Callie is still the same person he raised.
It was first reported in December 2008 that Capshaw would be joining the cast of Grey's Anatomy as pediatric surgeon Arizona Robbins, for a multi-episode arc. Initially scheduled to appear in three episodes of the show's fifth season, Capshaw later extended her contract to appear in all of the season's remaining episodes, becoming a series regular in the sixth season. This promotion saw Arizona become the only lesbian series regular on primetime TV.
Arizona is described as "quirky [and] perky" by TV Guide's Matt Mitovich, and "a clear and rational surgeon who is not ruled by her emotions" by Kris De Leon of BuddyTV. William Harper, writer of the episode "Beat Your Heart Out" in which Arizona and Callie kiss for the first time, has deemed Arizona: "genuinely, positively interested in people, in the most selfless way." Commenting on Arizona's confidence, Capshaw commented: "she never thinks she's wrong and you don't hate her for it. There's no ego though, she just always thinks she's right and she is." She is portrayed as having "wacky tendencies", including wearing roller shoes to work. Another part of the character's costume is a Holly Hobbie pink scrub cap, selected as series creator Shonda Rhimes wanted the character to be "kid-like" and "able to identify with children".
Shortly after her arrival in the show, Arizona became a love-interest for Callie Torres. The relationship between the two is referred to by fans by the portmanteau "Calzona". Callie's previous girlfriend Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) was written out of Grey's Anatomy in 2008, due to a lack of chemistry between the characters. Rhimes praised the chemistry between Arizona and Callie in contrast, comparing it to that between the show's primary couple Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd, and stating: "They have that little thing that makes you want to watch them." Rhimes named the addition of Capshaw to the cast as one of the elements of the season she was most proud of, commenting that she wished she could have found Callie a love interest that "sparkled" sooner, but was pleased with eventually having found one in Arizona.
When Arizona turned Callie down in the episode "An Honest Mistake" due to her inexperience with women, series writer Peter Nowalk offered the insight:
"I totally understand why Arizona wouldn’t want to date a newborn. It’s like getting a Freshman as your Physics lab partner even though you're a Senior who not only knows the Laws of Motion but has mastered them in ways that would rock that Freshman’s world. Which is not to say the Freshman won’t grow to be really good at Physics, or that Callie won’t catch up to Arizona on the lesbian front, it's simply that Arizona might not have the patience to wait that long."—Peter Nowalk, Grey Matter
Although the characters go on to begin a relationship, the show's one-hundredth episode "What a Difference a Day Makes" sees them experience difficulties as a result of Callie's family rejecting her for her sexuality. Rhimes commented on their ultimate reconciliation: "I love [Callie] with Arizona. [...] I like that they make me feel hopeful about love." Rhimes has said of their relationship in the sixth season: "I would like to see Callie happily in a long-term relationship. We have so much to explore with them, because we barely know anything about [Arizona]." Capshaw has characterized the relationship as "incredibly understanding and compassionate and sensitive". She described the sixth season as being about: "cementing a very mature and grounded relationship and taking it forward. This is a drama, of course; there will be conflict, but for the time being, they're enjoying being in a relationship that seems stable."
Asked whether Arizona and Callie might marry in the future, Capshaw replied: "There's probably a lot more stuff that has to happen before that happens. [...] I don't think they're going to get married just to get married. As Arizona goes, I think she has incredible discipline and she does, as you said, have a very strict moral compass and marriage would not be something she would jump into without giving it a great amount of thought." Discussing Arizona's relationship with Callie's former lover Mark Sloan (Eric Dane), Capshaw divulged: "Whenever there's been a chance to play that I am intimidated by him or being standoffish, I've always chosen to make it very playful. It's much more Arizona's style to find it very amusing."
Arizona ranked seventh in a top ten list of gay characters on TV compiled by Jane Boursaw of TV Squad. Boursaw wrote: "She's a mix of ironies - a pediatrician who glides around the hospital on wheelies, impulsively kisses Callie, then tells her she doesn't have time to teach a newbie how to be gay. Still, she's more interesting than the other gays on this show, which are dwindling in numbers since Erica left for parts unknown." Commenting on Erica's abrupt departure from the show, Dorothy Snarker, writing for LGBT website AfterEllen.com observed of Arizona and Callie's relationship: "I [...] can't help but be wary of how the Grey's writers will handle this relationship. Jessica has proven lovely and likable in her brief screen time so far. But it's not how the romance starts, but what happens next that really matters."
Matt Mitovich of TV Guide noted that Arizona "quickly established herself as a fan favorite", describing her as: "a breath of fresh air in the often angsty halls of Seattle Grace." Chris Monfette for IGN has opined they the fifth season of Grey's Anatomy was an improvement on the previous two seasons, attributing this in part to the introduction of "fresh, new characters" Arizona and Owen Hunt (Kevin McKidd). Monfette wrote that Arizona's ultimate contribution to the season was "introducing the element of childcare to Seattle Grace", which in turn gave Bailey "a great arc". Jennifer Godwin for E! Online approved of Arizona's season six promotion to a series regular, particularly as it meant the continuation of her relationship with Callie.
The Los Angeles Times's Carina MacKenzi wrote of the sixth season episode "Invasion": "By far the best moment in this episode was Arizona's scene with Callie's father, Mr. Torres. Jessica Capshaw has an incredible ability to take even the most melodramatic of "Grey's" speeches and deliver them with a subtlety and an honesty that makes them come off as sincere instead of overwrought. "I was named for a battleship," she said, and in the powerful monologue that followed, she calmly and carefully explained that Callie was still the woman Mr. Torres raised. It was really beautiful."