Reviews: Getting On

As Heartbreaking as it is Hilarious

I like to compare scenes between the BBC's hospital comedy, Getting On with Scrubs, just to give people an idea of the tone. In Scrubs, when a patient inevitably dies, some generic soft rock will play in the background and the gorgeous looking doctors will have a mopey eyed montage to show you the tough life lesson they have learnt. In Getting On when a patient dies, a trio of middle-aged, haggered looking medical professionals scavenge the person's belongings whilst arguing about parking fees.

Getting On should come with some kind of trigger warning for people who have relatives in NHS hospital care, just for how rotten it makes you feel for putting them through it. The Geratology ward is the bleakest setting for a comedy I've seen in my life - full of washed out colours and artificial white lighting, with miserable and disengaged medical staff trying to stave off depression whilst dealing with a room full of people who are nearly dead or wishing they were. I've worked within the NHS for the last five years, and whilst I'm happy to say the hospitals I've worked in are better than what we are shown, the atmosphere is all too familiar.

Getting On skewers the callous, clinical parts of the NHS, where the staff are buried under processes and regulations, and acts of empathy are often quashed for arbitrary reasons. Kim, the protagonist, is a little out of her depth as a return to work nurse who hasn't kept abreast with the last decade of litigation and political correctness. Thus she's often at odds with the callousness and helplessness of her colleagues, and responds to the weird HR speak they use with equal parts sarcasm and bemusement. Any time she manages to show actually kindness to a patient, it feels like a victory. She's no saint herself, often sneaking off to the toilets for a smoke or playing solitaire at the nearest computer, but she shows there can be a balance between the level of detachment you need to cope with the job, whilst being humane enough to treat a patient with dignity.

Getting On is a show I enjoy very much, but it is such a sad thing to watch that I can't bear to sit through more than a couple of episodes at a time. Maybe someone with a stronger stomach can binge watch the lot on Netflix, but I recommend taking your time with this one.
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