The title of this post is a simple one, with no included snark, sarcasm, or attempt at cleverness. It’s a straightforward title, because I think this is a pretty straightforward message.
One of the weird paradoxes of Netflix streaming is that when I get in the mood to watch something new, I often find myself paralyzed by the number of choices. I do have a system for narrowing down what I decide to watch, and it goes something like this, with every subsequent question arising if I answer no to the previous one:
- Have I seen previous seasons of this show or earlier installments in this movie series, and did I enjoy them?
- Have I heard buzz about this show from friends whose taste in entertainment aligns with my own?
- Have I heard buzz about this show from the corners of the internet where I like to spend my time?
- Is the show genre?
- Do the title card, synopsis, and projected rating offer enough information to catch my interest?
The last couple questions tend to be a little more flexible in their order, but generally I do know that I prefer to watch genre fiction over whatever it is you call stories without speculative elements. In the case of Call the Midwife, I had to go all the way down to the last question, and then Rachael had to nudge me to try it out, even though Netflix insisted that we would want to give it five stars (there’s probably something to the fact that even after being a dedicated Netflix user for years now, I still don’t fully trust their rating system). It’s true that we did have one friend who said the show was amazing, and I saw a recommendation on a blog that I follow somewhere, but for all that the decision to actually commit to a new show, particularly one that’s emphatically not speculative (it’s a period drama based on the memoirs of a woman who worked as a midwife in east London in the late 1950s), was a difficult one.
Nonetheless, commit we did, and in a matter of about two weeks, we managed to get through the three seasons that are on Netflix (which immediately prompted me to look up and confirm that there is a fourth season which just finished airing back in April).
And folks. Folks.
This show is incredible.
I’ve been mulling over why I hadn’t heard more about it before I watched it myself, and the only thing I can think is that because this show isn’t genre, it’s just not talked about in the circles that I frequent, which is a real shame!
You know how typically I have some kind of complaint about every show or movie I watch and write about here? Yeah, I don’t have any of those about Call the Midwife. It’s a show that’s focused around a group of women who are allowed to both be scientific experts and express their various forms of faith without assuming any kind of conflict between the two, all set in a place and time period where the constant rejoinder is that medical progress is wonderful, and socialized healthcare is pretty much the best thing to ever happen. It’s life affirming while pointing out repeatedly that a major part of enabling women to make decisions to have children is the need for social welfare; without the support that the nurses at the center of the show provide (all paid by the United Kingdom’s Welfare State), many of the families they help simply wouldn’t be able to have children safely.
Beyond the fact that pretty much every aspect of the show’s central premise makes fireworks shoot off in my heart, it’s also just incredibly well produced. The storylines earn their emotional beats, and only rarely does any development feel melodramatic. Every season contains one or two episodes that leave me wanting to cry (keep in mind that each season only has six to eight episodes), and I’m perfectly okay with that. Nothing feels manipulative, and the characters are wonderfully sympathetic.
So go watch the show. It’s wonderful.