‘This Is Going to Hurt’ Review: No Easy Cures

This dramedy series, drawn from Adam Kay’s diary-based book about his own obstetrical training in a British NHS hospital, tweaks the doctor-show formula

Ben Whishaw and Ambika ModPhoto: AMC+

The title alone is a tipoff that “This Is Going to Hurt” won’t have the same bedside manner we’ve become accustomed to from hospital dramas. (The show is also not strictly a drama, either, though it shows symptoms.) Crisis, as we all know, is the lifeblood, plasma and amniotic fluid of medical TV. But the doctors are usually demi-gods and the hospitals well-intentioned, at least when push comes to shove in the delivery room. What we have here is a show that resists any clinical appraisal.

This Is Going to Hurt

Begins Thursday, AMC+ and Sundance Now

But it is engaging, witty and intelligently caustic. Based on the former-doctor-now-comedy-writer Adam Kay’s diary-based book about his own obstetrical training, the seven-episode “This Is Going to Hurt” is set in and around a National Health Service hospital in London in 2006. Doing his job within the sprawling NHS, according to the show’s version of Adam Kay (Ben Whishaw), is like “sailing the ship alone, except it’s massive and on fire and no one’s taken the time to teach you how to sail.” The NHS has long been quite popular in the U.K.—polls have said so anyway. But the problems on display over there will be very familiar to those of us enjoying the health-care system over here: The hospital is understaffed, the staff is overworked, the work is joyless, and no one in authority, which does not mean the doctors, wants to spend a farthing more than they have to, because the governing ethos of the system—and the way one gets ahead within it—is all about not spending money.

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