To Binge or Not To Binge… That is The Netflix Question

I gawked at the calendar this morning, shocked that it is already mid-November. Good heavens, why is the calendar in such a hurry this year? For some reason, everything after Halloween just picks up a head-spinning speed that makes me wonder whether there is a price for the fast month or year that passed.

In an effort to catch up with some much needed rest and sleep last weekend, I opted for unproductivity (after the household chores of course) and decided to do something I haven’t done in ages binge on a series on Netflix. The first question was, which one? What was I in the mood for in order to relax, get involved, feel intellectually challenged, appreciate the script, and not turn my nose up at the acting. Otherwise I’m not picky… after half an hour of trial and error, I ended up with New Amsterdam, the medical drama based on and inspired by the work and book of Dr. Eric Manheimer and the Bellevue Hospital in New York City (Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital).

Ever since the producers killed off the character of Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy, I promised myself I would never again get so emotionally involved in a medical drama, but here I am again, completely involved in the series. A friend recommended it during the pandemic, but there was something very morbid about watching a medical drama when the whole world was caught up in one gigantic medical drama, so I stayed away. But at the back of my mind, I knew it would not be for very long. It was my mother who got me hooked on these medical dramas, with her life and work as a hospital nurse both in the Philippines and Philadelphia. She would explain the basics to me, point out what was utter bullshit and would never happen in a real hospital, and so on. So to some extent, it is a very distant way of remaining connected to her, continuing something we shared and enjoyed.

New Amsterdam checked all the boxes in my criteria, and more. The scriptwriters delivered a comprehensive series rich in cultural, psychological, and social diversity that does not disappoint. It digresses from the stereotypical notions of the perfect hospital and the ideal doctors, instead, dishes out flawed, vulnerable and yet committed people who are constantly rallied back to the fold and reminded of their oath to save lives and heal. Don’t worry, I’m not going to analyse and review the series to death. Suffice it to say that it was definitely worth my time and emotional involvement.

One of the more powerful components of the show is the psychiatric angle, which fascinates me on so many levels. One episode was dedicated to soldiers with varying degrees of PTSD. As a form of therapy, they are asked to put on a play, an adaptation of Socrates. This is where I truly admired the scriptwriters because this is what one of the participants recited, and it resonated with me so deeply:

“I had grown accustomed to my station here. Enduring it as if lost in a dream. Your medical records. But today, my eyes have been opened. Today, I awake. Too long have I suffered adversity. Pain from the actions of those entrusted with protecting me. Forging on, my past shall not define me, even as I stand afeard a resurgence of my true vulnerabilities. The time has come at last to abandon this isle. To depart, never to return. Fare thee well, O home. Wait for my return no longer. Onward I must proceed with strength in each footfall Evermore haunted with the memories of the man I used to be. For my old home is now behind me. Faith is my new home.”

Forging on, my past shall not define me, even as I stand afeard a resurgence of my true vulnerabilities... Faith is my new home.

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