Call the Midwife

Television is a mysterious creature. It is often viewed as a vice whose sole purpose is to seek, turn to mush and destroy. Although this situation may be the case with a large percentage of the shows that are currently on the air (I won’t point any fingers….yet), there are a few shows, well really one show, that has in fact done the opposite for me. “Call the Midwife” is a gritty English drama set in the east end of London in the 1950′s. Although the show’s primary plot line is the strenuous, disgusting, dangerous and crazy situations that the midwives are faced with as they help deliver the next generation of East Londoners, it is not the overly fascinating situations that these midwives and their patients have to deal with that got me hooked on this show; rather, it is the reactions, interactions, thought processes and internal conflict of each and every one of the characters that makes this show a blessing to watch. Each character faces personal struggle, traumatic situations, loss and happiness in such a unique and refreshing way. The characters’ inward conflict that has been made visible by the nature of television reveals a strength and resolve that so many are lacking. At one point, the main character is given the task of caring for an aging, immobile man whose house arrest has led to unsanitary living conditions and therefore health problems. She struggles with the will to visit with him and care for his medical needs as his home is filled with foreign creatures and smells. Her challenge grows worse when she realizes that her patient has been moved to a government funded sight, and she is no longer allowed to care for him. Instead of feeling any sense of relief that he will no longer be her burden, she feels deep sadness as she knows he will not get the care he needs. She continues to visit him as often as she is able until the end (I can’t tell you the actual ending…).. It is her deep compassion that rises from a place of personal conflict that makes her so admirable. Furthermore, the characters take the time to speak with poise and purpose. The nuns who run the midwifing services are wise and thoughtful. They lead and guide the midwives by giving them words when they have none. Additionally, their actions reflect a deep concern for the well-being of the population around them. It is with grace, thoughtfulness, purpose, and selflessness that they interact with one another and the world. In one episode a young girl lives on her father’s fishing vessel the entire time he is at sea with his crew. In order to minimize the tension between crew members, they are given full access to her; therefore, she becomes pregnant. While the ship is at harbor in London, the midwives board the vessel in a hilarious scene and deliver the child. Instead of heaving judgement, condemnation, and scorn on the captain and his daughter, they bathe her in a loving compassion. They tend to her physical needs but also her emotional needs as they reassure her that she is precious and her child is beautiful. The scene would move any thoughtful person to tears (it moved me, and I never cry).
My heart is full when I think that there is hope for people to behave with such care and concern, and it makes my heart break to think that these ladies were the last of their kind. Some may say that “Call the Midwife” is a drama about women having babies (loudly too), and it is, but it also a beautiful display of human excellence. I no do not claim to be a t.v. critic, but this is one show that I can watch and feel challenged to live and treat people differently.

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