Golden Globe Winners 2015: The Year of the Nursing Home Sitcom?

The Golden Globes 2014 are done — Bye Tina Fey! So long Amy Poehler! See you next year! — and I’m sure networks are already thinking about which shows and stars might make it to the red carpet in 2015.

This year, Brooklyn Nine-Nine and its star, Andy Samberg took home Golden Globes for Best TV Comedy and Best Actor in a TV Comedy, respectively. Don’t get me wrong, I love the show and watch it whenever I can but really, hasn’t the old “detective precinct” comedy been done before? (I’m looking at you, Barney Miller.)

If you want an original workplace comedy, well, place, I’d like to present a couple of comedies I’ve discovered recently.

Approximately 1.6 million Americans over the age of 65 live in institutions such as nursing homes. 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day and they can expect to live to 84 years old. This means that chances are, someone you know, or you yourself, may wind up in a nursing home or extended care facility. An aging population will increase demand, but costs and limited funding will make it difficult to provide the needed level of care. Now, doesn’t that just scream comedic situations?

The Netflix Original Series Derek stars Ricky Gervais in a “comedy-drama about a loyal nursing home caretaker who sees only the good in his quirky co-workers as they struggle against prejudice and shrinking budgets to care for their elderly residents.” Derek is a simple, sweet man who loves his job at Broad Hill nursing home, along with its residents. His best friends are his co-workers, including the nursing home manager. “Best of all is Hannah (Kerry Godliman),” says Derek. “She’s the manager here and she’s the nicest person in the world. She cares for everyone.” Hannah is a model senior caregiver. “People think care means 3 meals a day and a bed. But it means caring. And if you don’t care, you shouldn’t be in the job.” According to Derek, no one in his life treats him as well as the elderly in his charge. Even as he cuts their toenails or helps them manage through traffic, he considers himself the luckiest man in the world. Mr. Gervais is all but unrecognizable from his role as the abrasive David Brent in the UK’s The Office. Although filmed in the same mockumentary style, Derek has a broad sweetness that The Office certainly didn’t have.

In Derek, “Kindness is Magic”, but this trailer is NSFW.

HBO’s Getting On, is based on the British sitcom of the same name. The creators of Big Love present this new comedy set in The Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit of a fictional Long Beach hospital where many of the female patients suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

Chicago veteran stage actress and Emmy winner Laurie Metcalf (Roseanne) is beleaguered Dr. Jenna James, Alex Borstein is eager-to-please nurse Dawn Forchette, and Niecy Nash is Denise “Didi” Ortley, the elderly caregiver I’d like to hire for myself, right now.

More than anything, this show gives a great and honest glimpse into the duties and responsibilities of a caregiver a long term care setting, dealing with red tape and always in fear of losing its Medicare reimbursement. In a hilariously literal game of “telephone”, nurses try to translate an elderly woman’s Cambodian with the translation department. Nurses are overworked and underappreciated and have to fill out the proper paperwork before simply doing what is needed.

“They say extended care is boring, which it is not. It is totally where the action is,” Dawn tells Didi, while bemoaning the lack of testosterone in the department. This is a sitcom that doesn’t shirk away from showing all the difficulties inherent in the eldercare industry, from the job of toileting to the responsibility of delivering news of the death of an 87 year old “baby sister”.

Check out this trailer. It too is NSFW.

Both are worth a watch for a true look at the life of caregivers and the elderly who rely upon them.

Have you seen either of these shows? Do you think they are realistic looks at caregivers and the caregiving industry?

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