In honor of my new ABD status, a blog post!
My boyfriend works late and I live in the suburbs around very few of my friends, so I watch a lot of TV. I hereby offer you the first of a series of flash reviews of my recent favorite TV shows.
Add HBO’s Getting On to the list of TV shows I watch because New Yorker TV reviewer Emily Nussbaum told me to. Her TV taste is spot-on; she got me into UnREAL and Jane The Virgin and if she has her way I just may try out The Leftovers. Getting On was a hard sell–probably for HBO, too–because it’s about a dilapidated extended-care facility in Southern California, where a troupe of overworked doctors and nurses tend to a revolving cohort of mostly elderly, sometimes verbally responsive patients. Not a real sexy pitch.
It took actually seeing a little bit of the show, when my siblings were watching it over Thanksgiving, for me to believe it could be funny. But it is. Deeply, weirdly funny. And smart. I love shows that have a political critique, and Getting On’s outlandish plotlines only work because of their foundation in the real inefficiencies and immoralities of the contemporary healthcare-insurance-industrial-complex.
I also love a good ensemble–I get tired of shows that are vehicles for a single actor–and the doctors and nurses on Getting On have amazing chemistry, both comic and heartfelt. The show stars Laura Metcalf as Dr. Jenna James, the ward’s head doctor and a frustrated would-be researcher whose desire for prestige leads her to push the limits of her insurance billings; Niecy Nash as sweet-hearted new nurse Didi, who never seems to deliver punchlines but instead grounds the show’s humanness; Alex Borstein (formerly known as Miss Swan) as nurse Dawn and Mel Rodriguez as head nurse Patsy de la Cerda. I loved Borstein as a kid watching MAD TV; the writing for her character Dawn allows her to be goofy and lonely but also desperate, confused, and sexually crazed. My favorite plotline of the show is the hot-and-cold romance between Dawn and Patsy, a relationship which is abrasive, compulsive, inappropriate, and eternally hilarious.
The show only has three seasons of 6 episodes each, but the clear standout is the finale of season 2. It’s impossible to write about this episode without giving spoilers, but as I watched it I was aware of the quality of the comedy writing, as storylines that had been set in play throughout the season each reached absurdist heights, then collided with one another. The episode starts with Dr. James arriving to the office with a ridiculous new perm which bounces from joy to hysteria as her moneymaking schemes implode and the entire ward is thrown into disarray. Most amazing of all may be how the episode ends seriously, by acknowledging the real life-and-deathness at the center of the ward’s work.
Highly recommended. Happy holidays.