The Washington Post

‘Call the Midwife’: Keep calm and puuush

TV critic

Sunday, Sept. 30, 8 p.m., PBS

A huge hit in Britain (with a second season already on order), this absorbing and inspiring six-episode miniseries about young nurses in London’s East End deserves top priority on your crowded Sunday-night schedule. (It’s also welcome relief for anglophiles who can’t wait for “Downton Abbey” to hurry up and return in January. )

Hank Stuever has been The Post's TV critic since 2009. He joined the paper in 1999 as a writer for the Style section, where he has covered an array of popular (and unpopular) culture across the nation. View Archive

Based on the late Jennifer Worth’s memoirs, “Call the Midwife” follows Jenny Lee (a luminescent Jessica Raine) as she begins work as a midwife in the late 1950s. She lives in a convent of Anglican sisters and other nurses who’ve devoted themselves to providing top-notch aid to impoverished women and the elderly in the nascent days of Britain’s national health-care system. The cast is marvelous, the gritty, post-war set pieces are meticulously recreated and, even with all the warm-water enemas and splattered afterbirth, the story always has its eye on uplift and good cheer.

The American audience will be greeting “Call the Midwife” amid an election-year climate that has disparaged women’s rights and all but demonized the idea of government-assisted health care, so it’s understandable that you might watch it with a feminist zeal. Another possibility is to see the show as a yet another subversive bit of socialist propaganda brought to you by your public broadcasters. But if you can get past the present-day angst, I suggest you simply lose yourself in “Call the Midwife’s” belief in pure charity, which means doing our best for the least of our sisters and brothers.

Grade: A

Next: The Mindy Project

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