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'Call the Midwife' series debut: The PBS drama is just what the doctor ordered

Image credit: Laurence Cendrowicz

The U.S. series debut of PBS’ Call the Midwife fulfilled all my expectations of a BBC hit that trumped Downton Abbey‘s first season ratings in Britain. The period drama, which premiered in the U.K. in January, elicited both laughs and (near) tears in its depiction of midwives and nuns working in the 1950s slums of London’s East End.

The show follows newly qualified midwife Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) as she struggles to “find her feet” in the Nonnatus House nursing convent and accept the seemingly unsanitary living conditions of the women she cares for. Although the British import initially solicits a comparison to Downton, the show is more of a cross between Grey’s Anatomy (the earlier seasons), Upstairs, Downstairs (the “downstairs” portion), and The Real Housewives of New Jersey (see the opening catfight scene). Fine, maybe Real Housewives is a stretch.

Vanessa Redgrave narrates the show as the voice of the older Jennifer Worth, the author who penned the trilogy of memoirs that the show is based. “Midwifery is the very stuff of life. Every child is conceived in love or lust and born in pain, followed by joy or by tragedy and anguish. Every birth is attended by a midwife. She is in the thick of it. She sees it all,” she says. [SPOILERS AHEAD] READ FULL STORY

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