By Melissa Maerz
December 31, 2014 at 05:00 AM EST

Here’s a secret that ”serious” hospital dramas don’t tell you: The end of life, while sad, can also be hilarious, especially at the very moments when laughing seems wrong. That’s the case in real life, as anyone who’s ever watched a loved one succumb to the absurd tragedy of dementia can attest, and it’s brilliantly captured on Getting On, which takes place in a hospital’s geriatric wing. Season 2 begins with Nurse DiDi (Niecy Nash) plying a dying woman with questions about what the experience feels like. ”There is an art to dying, DiDi,” her colleague Dawn (Alex Borstein) snaps, ”not just a chatty séance.” But when DiDi tells the family to take their time saying goodbye, Dawn corrects her: ”We have to have the room back by 11.”

Getting On finds great comedic tension between the gravitas of getting on (as in getting old and dying) and the levity required for getting on (as in just getting through the workday). This season Dr. James (Laurie Metcalf) games hospice for more money—declaring patients terminally ill before their time. And Dawn seems equally unfazed about manipulating her closeted boss/lover (Mel Rodriguez) into taking a major step in their relationship. But if the hospital’s staff is desensitized to basic human dignity, the show makes sure its audience never is. The endings of the second and third episodes deal with the big stuff—birth and death—and although they’re darkly comic and deeply moving, it’s hard to laugh or cry. You might just sit there, slightly shocked, and say, ”Oh!” At those moments, Getting On is something better than funny or sad: It’s true. A

  • TV Show
  • 3
  • TV-MA
run date
  • 11/24/13
  • In Season
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