May 20, 2014
HBO’s ‘Getting On’: Women In The Middle Of A Nervous Breakdown
HBO’s new series “Getting On” is sort of like MASH if MASH were about an extended care facility on the verge of losing its Medicare accreditation instead of a field hospital in Korea. Also, if it didn’t have a cast of smooth-quipping rebels but instead was staffed by buttoned-up women coming undone and losing their shit over literal turds. War is hell. Suicide is painless. White bitches be crazy.
Niecy Nash is marvelous as the new orderly Didi, swimming gamely through oceans of sadness, ridiculousness, and literal shit. If you loved her for her brassy idiocy at Reno 911, she’s almost unrecognizable here. Also unrecognizable to most of her colleagues is what a human being looks like, since she’s pretty much the only one in the place.
People aren’t bad here — the most villainous character is Laurie Metcalfe’s doctor, Dr. Jenna James (she does not look like a Jenna James because that is a porn name); she’s a steamrolling heavy, something like Gloria Akalitus before the writers on “Nurse Jackie” tired of abusing a cartoon character and decided to let her be both caring and capable instead. She’s also uptight, selfish, and a bit skimpy on the concern for patients’ best interests. But she’s also at the end of her rope, what with the working 48 hours at a time, and really, hospitals should stop that. Talk about a threat to public health.
Alex Borstein’s nurse, Dawn, isn’t a bad person either; she holds hands with old people as they die, even if she is playing Farmville or the like at the same time. She cares — oh, she cares! She weeps with caring, projecting herself into this place, in her sad old catlady future. But she’s also such a stickler for rules, and so rigid in her thinking — so anal, in fact — she won’t let Didi dispose of an mystery “fece” but keeps it hanging around the nurse’s station long enough for it to marry, procreate, get old and die in this place. But at least then Dawn will be holding its hand.
The pile of shit works better as a symbol than it does as actual plot. The writers are a little too in love with their Heller-esque bureaucracy and making Didi and Dawn discuss “turds” and the fact that feces has no singular, and the episode meanders in the first half.
But as every woman in the place — and it is indeed in need of some testosterone; bitches get crazy when they’re all cooped up in the same old henhouse — begins to slide into her breakdown (or at least her breakdown today), and as they get more cry-y and screamy and less bureaucratic talky, the show picks up quick.
Also, Telma Hopkins is here for a few moments to be a human being too — the sensible head nurse tries to remind Dawn to be better about floor cleanliness and the leaving dookies everywhere, and to stand up to Dr. James’s insanity … only to be transferred out by James, the new (and extremely unhappy about it) head of this literal shithole.
“Crazy white bitch had me transferred out of here,” Hopkins’s Beverly says disgustedly to Dawn as she peaces out.
But what could be a worse workplace than extended care, the literal dead end?
Oh, Beverly’s being transferred to the hospital’s hormone center, and everyone takes a shuddering beat to contemplate the awfulness of that. It’s okay, Beverly. How many more crying catladies could there be?