PBS offers a lot of great programming, and I’ve been delighted with several shows that have become my favorites, from Downton Abbey to Mr. Selfridge to Grantchester; the writing, sets, plot lines, and characters keep me coming back. One show that is a must-see for women is Call the Midwife, now in its 5th season, that focuses on the nuns and midwives of Poplar, East London, and their struggles and triumphs. The show is based on the memoir by Jennifer Worth.
I’ve said it from the beginning: the thing I like best about the show is it focuses on women’s friendships, the sincerity of them, and what makes and sustains them. The relationships highlight the support and love the women offer each other; the pure acceptance of each other and their mistakes, failures, and successes; and the notion that women are not afraid to go out on a limb and let the other know that love means acceptance of who you are as a person.
Friendships between women sometimes come easily. At other times, friendships are tested. This show proves that the underlying success of friendships is the withholding of judgment. Tender, honest, loving relationships between women are constantly evolving; and whether that evolution proves to strengthen a friendship or nullify one, the lessons we learn from Call the Midwife help us understand that it’s often a misjudgment that can kill a friendship.
Unless you have actually walked in your friend’s shoes or know the full scope and complete background of someone’s life, you honestly have no idea what her situation is—for better or for worse. That’s my takeaway from the show. More love, less judgment. It seems to work in fiction. If we examine the friendships portrayed on the show carefully, maybe those lessons have a chance to resonate in real life.
Stephanie Verni is the author of Baseball Girl, Beneath the Mimosa Tree, and the co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice.