Happy Friday! This week’s “global TV to watch” includes three series from Europe and Asia that celebrate nurses.

The School Nurse Files
The School Nurse Files: Jung Yu-mi as Ahn Eun Young — Photo courtesy of Netflix

May is National Nurses Month in the US, an annual, month-long celebration that, per the American Nurses Association, “… allows for greater opportunities to promote understanding and appreciation of the invaluable contributions of nurses…”

I recently had surgery and am grateful to the nurses who took great care of me. As a way of expressing my appreciation beyond words of thanks, here are three programs that offer different views of nurses, their chosen profession, and where and how they work.

Frankie (UK)

I first watched this drama series when it arrived in the US nine years ago (on select public TV stations), and I loved it. It takes viewers into the demanding world of district nursing — where home visits to patients can range from routine to challenging, where work-life balance often leans more toward the side of work, and where relationships with colleagues, patients, and intimates can get messy.

Eve Myles (Torchwood, Keeping Faith, We Hunt Together) stars as Frankie Maddox, the upbeat, energetic, and devoted team leader of a group of district nurses in Bristol, England — a quirky woman who breaks into dance, sings in the car, and has one-sided chats with a radio deejay. (Raise your hand if you do at least two of the three.) Given Frankie’s dedication to her patients, her policeman boyfriend, PC Ian Hargrave (Dean Lennox Kelly, Shadow & Bone, Shameless), is the one who usually gets the short end of the stick. Another person who (secretly) wants more of Frankie’s time and attention is her colleague and friend, former Army medic Andy Peat (Derek Riddell, Happy Valley, Gentleman Jack).

But not everyone at the office is as fond of Frankie as Andy is — namely their boss, Dr. Zoe Evans (Jemma Redgrave, Doctor Who, Grantchester), who thinks Frankie acts inappropriately and does damage in her job and basically is out to get her. Then there’s the matter of Frankie’s stalker…

Eve Myles in Frankie
Frankie: Eve Myles as Frankie Maddox — Photo courtesy of Amazon Freevee

Frankie is currently available for streaming in the US and Canada on BritBox and its digital channels, including BritBox on Amazon (both without ads), and on Freevee (with ads).

The New Nurses (Sygeplejeskolen) (Denmark)

A bit like the hit British series Call the Midwife, this light period drama offers up feel-good moments alongside more dramatic medical-case-of-the-week ones as it follows the first group of co-ed nursing students in 1950s Denmark. In this post-war era, nurses are in seriously short supply, so to help grow their ranks, the Fredenslund Hospital in Copenhagen launches an experimental (and controversial) program that allows male students to train as nurses alongside female students.

Season 1 features Morten Hee Andersen (Ride Upon the Storm) as Erik Larsen, a young man who forgoes soldiering for nursing (something his father fails to understand), and Molly Blixt Egelind (The Lawyer) as Anna Rosenfeld, a posh young woman who (against her father’s wishes) opts to pursue a career in nursing over a long-term relationship with her wealthy boyfriend. The four-month program is tough for all of the participants, but especially for Erik, his roommate Bjørn Toft (Jesper Groth, Riders of Justice), and the other male students, as the powers that be at the hospital, including chief physician Bent Neergaard (Jens Jørn Spottag, DNA) and head nurse Ruth Madsen (Anette Støvelbæk, Seaside Hotel), are diehard traditionalists. But once the training day ends, the young guys and gals drink, dance, flirt, and have fun, so (thankfully) it’s not all work and no play for them.

As the series progresses, so, too, does the training of women and men as nurses at Fredenslund. But then the fate of the hospital hangs in the balance as Fredenslund finds itself facing stiff competition to become the county’s central hospital, as the more conservative St. Helene Hospital doesn’t accept male nurses, a fact that is more appealing to the skeptical chairman of the county council. Meanwhile, students continue to face challenges and work overload during their demanding shifts while helping patients and transforming themselves.

Seasons 1-4 of The New Nurses are currently available for streaming in the US and Canada on MHz Choice and its digital channels, including MHz Choice on Amazon.

The School Nurse Files (South Korea)

And now for something completely different. This fantasy-mystery comedy-drama follows Ahn Eun-young (Jung Yu-mi, Live, Silenced), a woman who, at first blush, seems like an ordinary school nurse. She dispenses medication, cleans up bloody noses, teaches CPR, and the like. But she also goes down the school hallways wielding her ectoplasm-destroying plastic sword (and occasionally her plastic gun) to rid the place of the jelly-type blobs — physical manifestations of students’ feelings, desires, and intentions that only she can see — which can (and do) make the students sick (and worse).

Clearly school nurse Eun-young goes above and beyond the call of duty to keep the students safe. But there are other threats to their lives besides the cute little jellies (that remind me of the Adipose in the Doctor Who episode “Partners in Crime”), which go “splat” when she steps on them. Sensing there is something distinctly negative in the mysterious locked area of the school’s basement, she investigates with Hong In-pyo (Nam Joo-hyuk, Start-Up, The Bride of Habaek), a homeroom teacher, the Chinese characters teacher, and the grandson of the school’s founder — as well as a human being with an invisible force field that protects him from the jellies and recharges Eun-young when her energy is depleted. What they discover could bring the whole school down.

That story is the first in Eun-young’s files; subsequent ones include that of a bullied student who gets unnatural help with his athletic skills, and a transfer student who doesn’t have a belly button but does have a unique skill for eradicating large mites. When taken altogether, they are parts of a much bigger picture — a devious plan that was set in motion decades ago.

The School Nurse Files is currently available for streaming globally on Netflix.


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Global TV to Watch: Frankie, The New Nurses & The School Nurse Files
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