Name | Naomi “Nay” Bennett
Portrayed By | Merrin Dungey in the Grey’s Anatomy Crossover
Audra McDonald took over the role in the season 1 Pilot
Current Relationship | Gabriel Fife
Past Relationships | Sam Bennett (ex-husband), Archer Montgomery, William White
Specialty | Obstetrics and Gynecology/Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility
Children | Maya Bennett
First Appearance | Grey’s Anatomy 322 “The Other Side of This Life, Part One”
Her Story | Naomi is the kind of girl that plays by the rules. She doesn’t stray outside of the box, but she’d like to learn how to have more fun. She got married to Sam Bennet following medical school. They started their own practice together and soon had a child named, Maya. Naomi took on the role of the CEO at Oceanside Wellness by owning the largest share of the co-op and by leading the morning meetings at the practice. She’s assertive when she needs to be, but still lost major ground when the other doctors found out that the practice was on the verge of bankruptcy. Losing the top doctor position to Sam and Addison, her best friend from medical school and godmother to Maya, she began to feel betrayed by them. Instead of acknowledging her feelings, she often shoves her emotions down and piles plenty of chocolate on top of them. In order to keep her figure, Naomi works out on the treadmill daily and takes Pilates classes three times a week. She’s a hopeful, encouraging, highly intelligent, infertility specialist and she
shows off her wall of miracles in the office.
One of the first times we see Naomi using her physician skills is when she tests Addison’s fertility potential. She gives Addison the bad news that her FSH levels are low and that there is no potential for her to have a baby. We later learn that Addison’s levels are border-line, but Naomi doesn’t want to give her false hope. Many of Naomi’s cases are ethically challenged and also reflect where she is in her life at
the moment. She consults on a case with a doctor from a rival practice (which happens to operate a floor above Oceanside Wellness) for Claudia Jenkins, a young woman who had cancer and wants to become pregnant. It’s a risky venture, but Naomi decides to take it on so that she can be inspired again.
Her life hasn’t turned out quite the way she thought that it would. She lost a husband, failed at keeping the practice in the black, and felt guilty for not spending enough time with her daughter. Taking on the risky patient gave her the adrenaline she was looking for. Other medical cases included a couple hoping for a child, only to learn they shared ¼ of their genes, and a mature woman who wanted to implant her daughter’s embryos in herself even though she and her daughter were often at war with each other. Through these cases, we see that Naomi is empathetic, wrestles with her own conscience, and believes in the rights of an unborn child (anti-abortion).
Naomi is connected to the main character, Addison, by their friendship during medical school. When Addison comes to LA to find new happiness, Naomi decides to bring her into the practice without checking with the other doctors. This causes some bruised feelings, but in the end, they trust Naomi’s instincts to bring her aboard. Naomi and Addison’s friendship goes up and down throughout the three seasons. When Maya goes to Addison for a girlfriend that needs help, Naomi gets jealous. This happens again (much later, in season 3) when Maya gets pregnant and needs Addison to help her tell her parents. When Addison finds out that the practice is in financial trouble, Naomi tells her that she doesn’t want Addison questioning decisions that she and Sam make, but then admits that Addison will be a good leader. Along with some jealousy issues, Naomi and Addison are often at odds with each other when it comes to their medical cases.
Despite their, at-the-moment- feelings for each other, they learn to come together and do what’s best for their patients. Naomi tries to be a friend to Addison, but sometimes she acts more like a mother-figure to her. When Addison questions her about a man she’s dating, (Kevin), who isn’t calling her back, Naomi tells her that she has trust issues. Naomi’s motherly instincts come out again when her friend has feelings for a doctor that is married. She openly doesn’t approve of the relationship and Addison admits she was avoiding her because she knew how Naomi felt about it.
Along with feelings of ineptitude about her marriage and her mothering skills, Nay decides to sleep with Archer Montgomery, Addison’s brother, in order to feel wanted. This, of course, didn’t rest well with Addison. The situation becomes even worse when Archer tells Naomi that he’s dying from a brain tumor. Naomi tries to keep this information from Addison, but the secret doesn’t last long. Addison, Naomi, Archer, and eventually, Sam, go to Seattle (a Grey’s Anatomy cross over episode) to enlist the help of Addison’s ex-husband to cure Archer. Naomi and Archer’s relationship sours when she finds out that Archer hasn’t changed his habitually cheating ways.
When William White, owner of Pacific Wellcare (the rival practice upstairs from OSW), woos Naomi with the promise to run PW and hire whoever she chooses to, Naomi only flounders for a short time before accepting the position and leaving the practice she started with Sam. After she’s made this decision, Naomi has to readjust her friendships with Sam and Addison.
After Addison tells Naomi that she and Sam kissed, Nay admonishes her with a “Shame on you.” It seems, for now, that the physical break from OSW may also mean an emotional break from her family. By the end of season three, Naomi seems to reconcile what has happened and apologizes to Addison for how poorly she’s behaved. Naomi’s other friendships at the practice include Dell and Violet. Dell, the receptionist and midwifery student at OSW, has always had a crush on Naomi. He protects Nay when emotions get the best of her. Dell also tends to fuel her love of chocolate, but we know he’s doing it out of admiration for her. Dell got brave once and asked her out on a date, but was crushed when Naomi called him a “fetus.” After having his feelings rebutted, Dell quit the practice. Begging him to come back to OSW, Naomi turns to Sam to fight for Dell’s job back. Sam slackens and Dell accepts the position because he sees Naomi’s on his side. Following his re-hire, Naomi and Dell resurrect their friendship and work well together with Nay allowing him to assist with patients. We can see that Naomi and Violet, the resident psychologist, have forged a lasting friendship throughout their years together at OSW. Unfortunately, when Addison arrives, Violet is quickly replaced by her. As Addison and Naomi’s friendship becomes rocky, she turns to Violet for emotional support. Violet sticks up for herself when Naomi tells her she’s sleeping with Sam. Feeling used, Violet lets Nay know that she won’t be a replacement for Addison. This doesn’t last long because Naomi again goes to Violet to see what she Violet thinks of Nay sleeping with Addison’s brother, Archer. This time, Violet doesn’t see it as a friend vs. friend issue and tells Nay she approves of the tryst. Their friendship deepens when Pete and Naomi find a bloodied Violet, barely alive, after a patient of Vi’s tries to steal her unborn child. Later, Naomi backs Violet on the custody case for her baby against Pete, the baby’s father. As Maya’s wedding approaches, Violet takes on Naomi’s job of wedding planning while Nay tries to run from it all. Naomi’s most intense relationships fall into two categories: Sam, her ex-husband, and Maya, their daughter. At the time of the pilot, Sam and Naomi have been divorced for
a year. She feels that Sam wanted out of the marriage even though she did everything right. Despite their marital difficulties, Naomi goes to Sam when the practice begins to roll down a financial cliff. While they work on saving their practice, they begin to head back to each other romantically. This time, however, Naomi wants it to be different. She doesn’t want him to give up again. Instead of rekindling their love affair, Naomi decides that the only reason they are trying is because it’s comfortable and easier than learning how to date other people. Nay tells Sam they both need to let go of each other.
Once dating begins, Naomi gets jealous when Maya hangs around Sam’s new girlfriend. Naomi feels replaced and tries to spy on the new trio to see how great it really is. Addison understands her friend’s feelings and gently guides her away from the scene. When Naomi starts to date Archer, she goes to Sam for advice and he does the same regarding Sonya. So much for letting go. Naomi tells Sam to deal with it himself which is something she should do as well. After Nay finds out that Archer cheated on her, she asks Sam to get his friend, Duncan, to ask her out. That, too, falls through. Later, Sam accuses Naomi of hiding something from him and the other doctors. He’s right to worry as she does have a secret. Nay’s being woo’d by William White, owner of Pacific Wellcare, the rival practice upstairs. At the same time that Naomi’s feeling loved by William, Maya begins to act out. Sam and Naomi agree to work together to watch over adolescent Maya. Unfortunately, the togetherness doesn’t last long when the two become at odds with each other over Maya’s untimely pregnancy and decision to marry. When Naomi announces she’s going to Napa with William instead of attending her daughter’s marriage, Sam unloads on her. This, along with Naomi’s guilt for being a poor mother, compels her to attend Maya’s big day. In the end, Sam and Naomi sit by each other as their daughter becomes a wife.
Naomi’s relationship with her daughter is as rocky as her other relationships. Naomi had Maya soon after and she Sam were married. As their daughter grows up, Nay decides to be the fun parent instead of always feeling like the bad guy. Naomi admits to not giving “the talk” to her and for not being there when her daughter needed her. When Sam introduces Maya to his new girlfriend, Sonya, Naomi grills Maya for information on the couple’s relationship. After hearing how much Maya likes Sonya, Naomi feels like she likes Sonya better than her and that she’s being replaced by her. After Sam and Sonya call it quits, Maya begins a relationship with a boy named Dink and Naomi wonders if she’s growing up too fast. Naomi’s right to worry when Maya begins to be especially cruel to her. Naomi tells her to talk to someone else if she doesn’t feel comfortable talking to her own mother. Maya heeds that advice and turns to Addison when she finds out she’s pregnant. Once Nay’s brought into the loop about her daughter, she loses it and gives the knee jerk reaction for Maya to have an abortion, which is completely opposite of Naomi’s beliefs. Nay places all the blame on herself and feels she’s failed as a mother. Maya wants to have the baby, so Nay takes her into a birthing room to watch a laboring mother in tremendous pain. The act backfires when Maya sees the beautiful, healthy, newborn bond with his mother. When Maya and Dink decide to get married, Naomi avoids meeting Dink’s mother, Corrine. Eventually, the two moms do meet because Nay doesn’t want to be replaced by Corrine. As the wedding day approaches, a guilt-ridden Naomi skirts the idea of going to Napa with William so she can be there for Maya. Naomi feels like she screwed up Maya’s life by not being there when her daughter needed her and she doesn’t want to add to that failure by missing her daughter’s wedding. Naomi gives Maya a bracelet that was her mother’s (symbolizing something old, borrowed, and blue) and a monogrammed ring with her initials (M.B.) engraved on it, hoping Maya will keep her maiden name. As Naomi has had to reflect on herself as a mother, she may have the chance to redeem herself with her new granddaughter.
Where Do We Go From Here | Naomi’s going to need to make a decision about Gabriel Fife. Is he just a passing figure in her life or could he be a second chance at true love? How will Naomi treat Addison and Sam if their relationship deepens? How will Naomi adjust to motherhood, allowing Maya to be the parent? And really, Naomi needs to come back to OSW where she belongs. Maybe, at some point, in the series we’ll see all of the doctors working together as a single co-op housed in the entire building, as Sam and Naomi originally viewed their dream.