Have you been watching Call The Midwife on PBS? Season Two just ended and those of us addicted to the show are bereft. Its the adaptation of a series of books by British nurse Jennifer Worth which chronicle her years working as a midwife in the East End of London. Set in the 50s, each episode is a vignette detailing issues of the time, such as racism, the lack of reliable birth control, prostitution, separation of the classes, and changing rules of propriety.
The stories begin, I understand, with the advent of The Public Health. London’s poor, formerly either left with no healthcare at all or relying on charitable organizations such as the sisters of Nonnatus house, suddenly have access to state-funded doctors and nurses. Some are grateful, others deepy suspicious. The first season focuses on the young nurses, new to the East End, coming to terms with the sometimes heartbreaking poverty of their patients. Season Two finds the nurses more seasoned and the residents in their care more used to having help.
It is hard to describe how poignant and heartwarming (sometimes heartbreaking) this show is. Sometimes you have to smile at how unsophisticated the characters are by today’s standards. The entire neighborhood flies into a tizzy over the thought of being visited by a mobile X-ray van, and penicillin, the “new wonder drug” is prescribed for everything up to and including senile dementia. At other times you’ll sob like a baby. Season two, episode six is especially bittersweet. But the stories are good TV. Good, clean, TV I should say. Even episodes with shocking content are handled in such a manner that you could watch the show with your adolescent children. A warning however, if you’re squeamish about childbirth you may need to shut your eyes a few times – but the rest of the show will be worth a few shudders.
Have you been watching? What do you think about the show?