The series finale of HBO’s brilliant and infuriatingly underrated comedy Getting On may not have pretty, but it sure was beautiful.
Jenna got her earlobe torn — and had to be carried over the threshold by that hunky (and shirtless!) Australian doc. Dawn committed one final act of “Pay attention to me!” sabotage. Didi refused to admit that the end had finally arrived — at least when it came to the future of the Billy Barnes Extended Care Unit at Mount Palms Memorial Hospital. And an elderly wheelchair-bound patient who wouldn’t stop belting out folk hits of yesteryear drew the most brutally funny prescription in recent TV-medical history: “Didi, you gotta do something about her. She’s a downer! Just put her in [Room]109, close the door and stick a canary in there!”
(Side note: I love watching Laurie Metcalf’s Dr. James on television, but heaven help any of us who fall under her end-of-life care philosophy in the decades to come!)
Anyhow, let’s review how Getting On went out (or rather, went up in flames):
* With the closure of Billy Barnes pretty much imminent, Didi organized a picket line — but even as Jenna admired her for playing the role of “that heroic Dutch boy with his finger in the dike,” she finally impressed upon her nursing colleague that her fight was an exercise in futility. And it wasn’t as if Didi was deluded, it turns out, but as she explained tearfully to her boss, “for once, I want to have a say!” (Um, hello, Emmys, you’d better give Niecy Nash a second nomination next year. K? Thanks.)
* Perpetually put-upon Marguerite revealed to her colleagues that she was transsexual. While Didi didn’t exactly wrap herself in a cloak of sensitivity – “Do she like the way she look, or did she just run out of money?” — she still found herself offended enough by Patsy’s gossip about whether their coworker might still have a penis that she filed a report with H.R.
* A visiting nun from a Catholic hospital (Rita Moreno!) courted Dr. James for a new high-profile position, but the good doc said her nurses were too dedicated to Mt. Palms to come with her. (Ouch!) Good thing the administrator checked in with Jenna’s underlings and learned they weren’t about to pass up on job opportunities — even if it meant having to collect unfortunate stool samples or work with Dr. James’ malfunctioning anal horn.
* Patsy essentially seduced sex addict Dr. Ron by accusing him of being a sex offender, then threatening to besmirch his reputation in a conversation that turned into a series of “oh no, I’m not hearing this!” double entendres.
* Despite Jenna’s efforts to procure a live-donor kidney from the Bengali Transplant Center — oh yeah, she dealt with her ethical issues — she couldn’t get off the donation treadmill… not until learning Dawn was “the little girl who cried wolf” (and had been binge-eating to make her blood tests look worse). Dawn, with her usual sensitivity, made her case for a transplant: “Five or six year old kids on their third kidney just because they’re cute — and it’s not fair!”
* The whole staff got their group hug on — but it didn’t stop Dawn from microwaving her engagement ring in a cup of water — leading to a fire in the unit, and a complete failure of the sprinkler system. Somehow Ron wound up shirtless and carrying Jenna and her twisted ankle to safety, while Didi, Dawn and Marguerite put a panic-stricken Patsy on a sheet and dragged him to the exit.
* A flash forward found Jenna and Dawn side by side and headed for surgery. Turns out, Dr. James made good on her promise. “Don’t blow it. I’ve taken care of my kidneys all my life,” she grumbled, before dropping a nugget of wisdom that was perhaps the heart of Getting On for three seasons. “There is no justice, but there is mercy. Because that’s what we can give to each other.” As the two women were wheeled to the operating room, Didi’s kind face appeared one last time through the doorway, waving them adieu.