Last watched August 2016
The plot follows newly qualified midwife Jenny Lee, and the work of midwives and the nuns of Nonnatus House, a nursing convent, and part of an Anglican religious order, coping with the medical problems in the deprived Poplar district of London’s desperately poor East End, in the 1950s. The Sisters and midwives carry out many nursing duties across the community. However, with between 80 and 100 babies being born each month in Poplar alone, the primary work is to help bring safe childbirth to women in the area and to look after their countless newborns.
My friend Karen recommended this show and while it makes her bawl every episode, it never struck such a chord with me. That being said, it’s well written, mindful and compassionate. The core of the series is largely about Jenny learning how to be open minded and compassionate to folk who have it a lot worse off. The show plumbs murky ethical waters such as (100% consensual) relations between (an adult) brother and sister, love between someone with down syndrome and someone with a physical disability, the adult iteration of what was once a deeply inappropriate (imo) marriage of a 14yo spanish woman to a British man – it depicts their life later on after she’s had 13 or so kids, still not speaking a word of English and he not a word of Spanish. Very strange and problematic!
Pros: woman lead, woman-focused, plot lines. Good representation of class and bridging class divides. There is also a loving portrait of a nun with dementia.
Cons: no good homo plot lines and not enough depictions of race, imo. That being said, I am not sure how diverse London was in 1950s?
Genre: historical drama
Approach carefully if: you have difficulty with any birthing related things. This show covers literally everything you could think of relating to it. It also has what was mentioned above, plot lines around incest, child marriage as well as sex slavery, agoraphobia, and any other amount of mental health. Depictions of dementia, infidelity plot lines. This show is very glossy and soap-y, though, which takes an edge off the tougher depictions.
Can be found: Netflix, Stan
Accesibility: closed captions available 🙂
If you liked, I recommend: Anzac Girls, Bomb Girls, Paper Giants