My Five Star Friday recommendation, Call the Midwife, is perfect for summer binge-watching. The BBC series that has aired on PBS for six seasons is on hiatus until the Holiday Special later this year. Thank goodness, your library has all six seasons, so if you haven’t yet discovered this gem, you’ve got plenty of time to catch up before Season 7 airs on PBS in 2018.
PBS Summary: Call the Midwife, based on the best-selling memoirs of the late Jennifer Worth, tells colorful stories of midwifery and families in London’s East End. Inspired by the memoirs of Jennifer Worth, Call the Midwife follows the nurses, midwives and nuns from Nonnatus House, who visit the expectant mothers of Poplar, providing the poorest women with the best possible care.
Although I tried, I could not find a summary that truly depicts the delight of Call the Midwife. The first three seasons are based on Worth’s memoir, but the series, created and written by Heidi Thomas, continued to tell the stories of families and nurses – both ‘civilian’ and Anglican nuns – in the late 1950’s through the early 1960’s when England’s National Health Service was in its early days. Even with health care being available to everyone, childbirth was expected to take place at home. Hospital visits were only for the riskiest cases.
Naturally, the cast of families changes regularly, but a core cast of midwives and community members is maintained from season to season even as main characters such as Jenny leave and are replaced by new ones. Some leave and return, but it’s the earnest and honest natures of the lovingly drawn characters that keeps the audience hooked.
And as New York Times reviewer, Neil Genzlinger stated, “A childbirth is never far away in this series, and some of the scenes are about as detailed as you can get, short of fitting the kid with a helmet-cam in utero…,” and the show is “…blunt about the medical practices of the day and the state of birth control and female empowerment at the time.” Genzlinger aptly pointed out that the pull of the show is “its humanity, not its horrors.”
Call the Midwife doesn’t sugar-coat or sentimentalize the ‘good old days’ but shows characters at their most vulnerable and courageous; and despite the passing of six decades, the explosion of knowledge and technology, what hasn’t changed is the fragility and strength babies, parents, and midwives experience before, during, and after childbirth.
Happy binge-watching, Susan C.
You might also enjoy:
Where it all began:
Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times by Jennifer Worth
Jennifer Worth was just twenty-two when she volunteered to spend her early years of midwifery training in London’s East End in the 1950s. Coming from a sheltered background there were tough lessons to be learned. The conditions in which many women gave birth just half a century ago were horrifying.
And the other seasons: