This is Going to Hurt

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Ben Whishaw in This Is Going to Hurt.
Ben Whishaw in This Is Going to Hurt.
Photo: Showmax


This is Going to Hurt




3.5/5 Stars


The series is a fictional adaptation of Adam Kay's book This Is Going To Hurt. Set in London during 2006, it focuses on a group of junior doctors working in a busy obstetrics and gynaecology ward in an NHS hospital.


The appropriately titled, This is Going to Hurt paints a dark, funny and shockingly realistic picture of what it is like being a doctor.

First and foremost, I am not a doctor. I do, however, happen to live with one and have, therefore, witnessed the gut-wrenching toll working in the medical environment can have on a person.

I read former NHS doctor Adam Kay's memoir, which the series is based on, a few years back in an attempt to understand what my partner – who was working for the HSE (the Irish government's public health service) at the time – had experienced and was experiencing in his profession.

I was shocked. But at the same time, I wasn't surprised at all.

This Is Going to Hurt follows junior doctor Adam (played by Ben Whishaw) as he works his way through his "Brats and Twats" rotation (the obstetrics and gynaecology ward for those of a non-medical background) as a substitute registrar in the hopes of specialising. This means being covered in bodily fluids 24/7, dealing with too many patients at once, ignoring profound fatigue because someone didn't show up for work after your 24-hour shift, and having a consultant to call for help in case of an emergency, which is code for DO NOT call at all.

"It's the closest representation of what you go through and the situations you are put into and just expected to handle, even if you are out of your depth. You just have to handle it, and if you mess up, then you're in the shit," is what a doctor, who wishes to remain anonymous, said after watching the show.

After watching the 7-episode series and hearing first-hand accounts of working in public hospitals, I have realised that it does not matter where in the world it is, the pressure that medical doctors are put under is unfathomable, and the conditions they are expected to work under is heartbreaking. If this show has taught me anything, it's that it is so easy to forget that doctors are humans too, and they feel a loss just as much as we do, and when something goes wrong at work, they often punish themselves more than anyone else ever could.

And after more than two years of a global pandemic, I think this hits home harder now, more than ever.

The series surprisingly retains the two most challenging aspects that the book materialises. Firstly, Adam is faced with fatigue, incomprehensible absurdities, injustices and a lack of resources. Secondly, it doesn't soften how Adam is presented in the book. Good intentions and compassion are brilliantly tucked under his understandable bitterness and frustration. This is felt even more so through Whishaw's portrayal as Adam.

While it's not a show that I would suggest you binge, The End of the Fucking World director Lucy Forbes delicately balances drama and comedy throughout, making it easier to digest. It is full of if-you-didn't-laugh-you'd-cry moments and a constant stream of amusing dialogue. Adam and the rest of the hospital staff use humorous bantering and bickering to help them get through the day, which, relatably, took me back to the days of working in a full office. Sometimes the only way to get through something is to joke about it with the people who are going through it with you.

This Is Going to Hurt is full of images and scenes you'll hope to forget long after the credits roll. It's a show that I recommend everyone watch – whether you're a doctor yourself, know a doctor personally or only think of a doctor when you need one. Not only to truly see what doctors go through but also because its themes relate to the toxic narrative of working yourself to breaking point, feeling guilty if you don't and the aftermath of going over the edge. It is a real eye-opener, and while it's ugly to see, it may give you a new perspective on balancing work and pleasure.


This is Going to Hurt is now streaming on Showmax.

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