Ben Whishaw in AMC+ medical drama – The Hollywood Reporter

The televised medical drama will always have the basic friction between a job that viewers are inclined to admire and a central location where viewers will go out of their way to avoid wasting time. Even the celebration of medical professionals sparked by the early stages of the COVID pandemic has not changed a landscape in which “doctor” remains one of Peak TV’s most underserved professions.

This will hurt, which airs on AMC+ and Sundance Now after debuting on BBC One, is one of the best medical dramas to hit the small screen in years. It’s an emotionally complex and hilarious examination of the UK’s National Health Service and a thorny character study played with a rich disinterest in sympathy by Ben Whishaw.

This will hurt

The essential

One of the best TV medical dramas in years.

Broadcasting date : Thursday, June 2 (AMC+ and Sundance Now)
Cast: Ben Whishaw, Ambika Mod, Michele Austin, Alex Jennings, Kadiff Kirwan, Ashley McGuire, Harriet Walter, Rory Fleck Byrne, Tom Durant-Pritchard
Creator: Adam Kay

The seven-episode series has a lot to recommend it. At the same time, however, one must recognize the large number of initially curious viewers whose tolerance for graphic cesarean sections, various prolapsed anatomy pieces, and generally compromised pregnancies will be tested within the first five minutes.

Our flawed hero is Whishaw’s Adam Kay, a young doctor working in obstetrics and gynecology – ‘Brats & Twats’, he calls him – in an overcrowded and underfunded NHS hospital in London. The series was adapted by Kay from his memoir of the same title and whether it was his version of himself or Whishaw’s interpretation, This will hurt is unshakeable.

Adam de Whishaw is an efficient and devoted doctor, too often to the exclusion of all that is human. He’s always working and never sleeping, and he’s become the ghost of a boyfriend to good-natured Harry (Rory Fleck Byrne, Making Decency Impossible utterly believable), a son growing increasingly hostile to his restrained mother. (Harriet Walter) and a laconic, evasive mentor to wide-eyed newbie Shruti (Ambika Mod), who idolizes Adam until she begins to realize she shouldn’t.

Adam is gifted and committed and, as the show never denies, dangerous even though the threat he poses to his patients is the product of a broken system, often embodied by his patrician boss, Nigel Lockhart (Alex Jennings) .

As a writer, Kay confidently blends procedural elements with serialized drama, much of which is triggered by lapses in judgment in the premiere that force Adam and Shruti into both administrative and psychological spirals. For domestic viewers keen to understand the ins and outs of the NHS and Britain’s ambivalence about the system as a whole, Kay handles bureaucratic jargon as well as medical, relying on the middle to keep the stakes usually high and maintain them through the individual characters. personal struggles.

Each episode presents a new assortment of harrowing and agonizing arrivals at the hospital, and because of Adam’s specialty, that means an unbroken series of women and babies in danger, whether from medical conditions, violations of different kinds or external factors like violent spouses. And that’s before we address often insufficient on-call physicians, inconsistent technology, and vast resource gaps between private and public facilities.

The cases and the decisions they prompt are complex and it’s very rare for a decision or a character to do something so noble that someone who’s had a baby already thinks of having a baby, was a baby, or has ever set foot in a hospital will often look away with discomfort.

There’s a level at which the female victim of the week structure becomes repetitive and verging on gynophobia, since the show’s empathy tends to be with women as a class of patients, rather than as people. It is here that it falls to the series then to make right to its usual female characters.

It’s up to the performances of Ashley MaGuire, a blast as the no-shit consulting doctor, and Michele Austin, as the midwife and frequent voice of reason, to push back the thin characterizations. Mod is even better than that, making Shruti’s serious fragility the true heart of the series. But some of the show’s choices make her more trope than human, more of a catalyst for Adam’s journey than his own.

The first thing to say about Whishaw’s performance, a point I’ve probably buried in emphasizing the watch aspects through the show’s tight fingers, is that he’s extraordinarily funny. Adam, who has the power to speak directly to the camera, has a lot of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag in him, as his self-flagellation and neuroses create an aura of constant tension even though his intentions are rarely malignant. But it becomes a very different thing when such a character has life or death responsibilities.

You can laugh at Adam’s lack of bedside manners, and Whishaw’s gift for withered contempt is impeccable. He’s as hostile to the people who deserve it – Jennings and Walter skillfully raise their elite front men – as he is to the innocent. This will hurt is at its best when you’re laughing one moment and feeling personally assaulted the next.

This feeling won’t be for everyone, but Whishaw gives the character’s steady descent the right mix of gravity and levity. It’s worth noting that both directors of the show – Lucy Forbes and then Tom Kingsley – have backgrounds in comedy, dark comedy to be precise, because when you’re dealing with at-risk babies for 45 minutes at a time, the dark stuff will speak for itself, and you need storytellers and stars who can bring to light some underlying buoyancy.

episode by episode, This will hurt is involving, and I found myself amusedly sniffing one scene and completely deranged the next. Without loving some of the artifice it took to get there, the finale is a cumulative mix of reflection, hope and trauma. It’s been a long time since an American hospital show did so well.