“Can we leave my mask on?” asked Dr. Levi Schmitt (Jake Borelli) on the Thursday night premiere of Grey's Anatomy.
The question was directed to Nico Kim (Alex Landi), who cornered Schmitt in a medical supply closet to offer "stress relief" to the health care provider who, like the rest of the hospital staff, had been inundated with patients due to the pandemic. Kim is Schmitt's ex-boyfriend.
"That's not what I want to take off," Kim responded.
This stress relief ended up being off-camera oral sex; the viewer was left to linger on Schmitt's "o" face during the implied act. And yes, he did leave his mask on, which health experts in the real world recommend as a safer sex practice to help slow the spread.
The act was the first oral sex act between two men that acknowledged the pandemic to air on network TV. Borelli, who is gay, marked the moment on his Twitter feed.
Viewers clearly resonated with the moment as well. Some also noted the similarity to a line from RuPaul's Drag Race's Valentina, who once remarked during a lipsynch, "I'd like to keep it on," in reference to her mask.
Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Grey's Anatomy, is known for pushing the boundaries of gay sex on network TV. Another ABC show of hers, How to Get Away With Murder, memorably featured a rimming scene as well as office sex between Connor and Oliver.