Getting On: Season 2 created by Jo Brand, Vicki Pepperdine, and Joanna Scanlan (BBC Worldwide Productions, Home Box Office, Anima Sola Productions)
Starring Laurie Metcalf, Alex Borstein, Niecy Nash, Mel Rodriguez.
Death and Taxes
All that’s guaranteed in life is death and taxes, neither of which are funny.
Yes, this statement rings true. You can count on receiving a paycheck much smaller than you expected once the government gleans its share. And long term, you should expect your life to degrade into the sweet sleep of eternity. Both of these aspects of life flat-out suck. So why joke about it?
Well, Getting On suggests we joke about death because it can actually be funny.
Season 2 of Getting On explores the absurdity and drudgery of daily work in the geriatric ward. Ever the research specialist, Dr. Jenna James (Laurie Metcalf) has her nurses taking pictures of patient’s genitalia for key studies in women’s health. There’s also some justification for her to keep countless mice in the ward, but good luck trying to figure it out.
When the money runs dry for her project, Dr. James resorts to behavior of a questionable ethical stance. With the assistance of a hospice company, Dr. James can bring in the terminally ill at a high price point, covered by Medicare. The money flows and research continues without conflict, at least as long as nobody asks any difficult questions about this hospice practice.
Nurse Dawn Forchette (Alex Borstein) has developed an on-again-off-again relationship with her manager, Patsy de la Serda (Mel Rodriguez). Their conversations often navigate the awkward waters of not-work-appropriate and they require constant therapy-like de-escalators to ensure fighting stays far away from the ward.
Finally, Didi Ortley (Niecy Nash) leans on her paltry salary, hoping to provide for her family. She yearns for approval and takes any job she can — including a role in this hospice program — even if she can’t help but feel that people are taking advantage of her.
A Performance as the Glue
While the subject matter makes this dark comedy engaging, the performance of Laurie Metcalf provides the shine for Getting On. The awkwardness and ADD-nature of her Dr. James character creates hilarious scenarios, especially when she’s interacting directly with patients. You can see her pained expression as she tries to seem like she cares about these people, when more than likely visions of stool samples and elderly genitalia dance in her head.
Dr. James’ flippant treatment of her staff cultivates humorous encounters and when the power shifts to her superiors, Dr. James exhibits enormous sychophantic qualities.
In all these relationships and scenarios, Getting On mines the fertile ground of death as comedy. Yes, the end is the great unknown. But, it also is a little absurd to consider the fear society collectively exemplifies around death. Sometimes, the best response is a laugh. Getting On delivers those laughs in spades.
Verdict: 4.5 out of 5