If you want to emotionally invest in a single drama this winter, look no further than It’s Gonna Hurt. You will not be disappointed.
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EXAM: The BBC’s latest hospital series couldn’t be further from the brilliant visions of Grey’s Anatomy.
If you’re looking for a slick soap disguised as medical drama, then you’ve come to the wrong place. This is Going to Hurt (which debuts tonight, Sunday on TVNZ 1 at 9.30pm) is a dark, comical, raw and disturbing look at the lives of young doctors working in an obstetrics and gynecology ward at a hospital in the National Health Service London.
“What other specialization can give you twice as many patients as you started with?” Adam Kay (Ben Whishaw) reflects on us, in one of many fourth-wall-breaking moments over the course of the seven-part series. “Beat that geriatrics.”
Ben Whishaw stars as a young doctor working in the labor ward in the comedy drama series This Is Going To Hurt.
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Such optimism is a way of coping with the long hours and stressful situations he constantly finds himself in. Constantly sleep deprived – when we first meet him he dozed off in his car before he could get home from a shift – Kay is also regularly splashed with bodily fluids and dealing with patients often ungrateful.
Resources stretched beyond the breaking point also mean that coverage is virtually non-existent, consultations are not always available when needed, and the basic tools to do one’s job properly can be hard to come by. This inevitably leads to tension with other staff members.
“It must be hard to maintain a relationship because of your job – and your personality,” exclaims head nurse Tracy (Michele Austin) after lambasting a racist patient for his treatment of her nervous young colleague Shruti (Ambika Mod).
Originally published as a response to then UK Government Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s accusation that young doctors were greedy, during a stalemate on Wages, Kay’s hilariously heartbreaking 2017 compilation of her medical training diaries from the noughties has received both critical and public acclaim.
Unsurprisingly, there was strong demand for the television rights. The masterstrokes here were getting the accomplished comedy script editor (Who is America?, Mrs Brown’s Boys) to adapt the story himself, as well as cast the brilliant Whishaw to play it.
As he has shown in everything from the Bond movies (where he played Q in the Daniel Craig days) to A Very English Scandal and Paddington, the 41-year-old now has a unique ability to combine beautiful timing comedic with extremely relatable vulnerability. It’s always easy to empathize with its characters and root for them, even when they find themselves in the most ridiculous or heartbreaking situations.
Series directors Lucy Forbes (The End of the F…ing World) and Tom Kingsley (Ghosts) also do a fabulous job of balancing the humor with the heartbreak, ensuring the medical scenes have visceral truth and that the sometimes relentless drama is only lifted by the protagonists’ own gallows humor approach to staying sane.
Shout out to the gorgeous, thematically relevant soundtrack, too, which in the first episode features pitch-perfect tracks from Florence + the Machine, Jarvis Cocker, and The Chemical Brothers.
If you want to emotionally invest in a single drama this winter, look no further. You will not be disappointed.
This is Going to Hurt debuts tonight, Sunday, at 9:30 p.m. on TVNZ 1. Episodes will also be available to stream on TVNZ+.