Mastodon Getting On​​​: HBO sleeper comedy not shy about delicate topics ~ Pallimed

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Getting On​​​: HBO sleeper comedy not shy about delicate topics

(Note: we have a short poll about your thoughts on this show. It doesn't matter if you have seen it or not. Let us know what you think - Ed.)

by Chris Okon

"Getting On" is an HBO series about the daily and often absurd experiences of nurses, doctors, attendants, and patients in the "Billy Barnes" extended care wing of the fictional Mt. Palms hospital in southern California. ​Some viewers may be offended by the gallows humor that threads through each scenario, and so viewer discretion is advised. For others who don't mind, and in fact appreciate, the dark humor that's possible with any human interaction, be prepared for sudden bouts of the laughter of recognition.

While trying to sustain some level of compassion for the elderly, frail and sometimes dying patients, the overworked clinicians and staff must work under the knuckles of a red-taped hospital administration which in turn is squeezed by the larger powers-that-be of a broken and somewhat Kafkaesque healthcare system, CMS/Medicare, digital technology, hospice service salespeople, and other monkey wrenches.

Add the personal goals, quirks and challenges of each character and you get unexpected and hilarious situations that may ring very true for those involved in palliative care, long-term care, and hospice.

For example, floor nurse Dawn Forchette (Alex Borstein) knows her profession well but is insecure and so hungry for love that she foists a zero-to-sixty commitment on the unwitting supervising nurse Patsy de La Serda (Mel Rodriguez) who is still in the dark about his own sexual preferences.

Nurse DiDi (Niecy Nash) is probably the most likable and steady character, keeping a level head and caring compassion while navigating the chaos of quirky protocols, emotional meltdowns of coworkers, and the overarching bureacracy. In once scene, DiDi lets the family enter the room of the mother who just died. "Take as long as you want," DiDi says, quickly followed by Dawn's whisper of "we actually need that bed by 11."

The frazzled department lead Dr. Jenna James (Laurie Metcalf​), in denial that she has reached a career dead-end, still clings to the dream of producing groundbreaking research about fecal anomalies, so much so that she chastises a nurse for removing a critical study sample of "feces, not a turd" left on a chair by one of the more impish dementia patients.

Several ancillary characters add depth, such as the sweet and eager hospice volunteer; the mixed batch of ornery, sweet, or just plain vacant patients; the ingratiating saleswoman for a profit-driven hospice care enterprise; the steady stream of various family members who argue, compete, cajole, or cry over the mother, father, sister, in the hospital bed.

Based on the BBC series of the same name, the American version of Getting On just completed its second season but can be viewed on HBO or HBO Go. ​Start from the beginning with Season 1 to see how character dynamics are established, although any episode presents hilarious and familiar situations.

(Note: we have a short poll about your thoughts on this show. It doesn't matter if you have seen it or not. Let us know what you think - Ed.)

Season 1 Trailer

Season 2 Trailer

As a volunteer with Hospice by the Bay, ​Christine Okon​ offered ​gentle bodywork to many people at the end of life, feeling privileged to hear their stories. She learned much from Les Morgan who founded Growth House, ahead of its time for using technology to build a social network for those involved with EOL. Christine lives in San Francisco and works for Kaiser Permanente on the patient safety aspects of their EHR.

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