Monday, May 6, 2013

10 Reasons Why CALL THE MIDWIFE Makes For Gripping Writing Research

So I had these spectacular plans to write this weekend, and I've yet to come up with more than a thousand words tops for the entire week. This was partly due to the Workshop our work committee put on Tuesday (took all day); Monday was spent doing final preparations and reassuring the people who I'd been helping to organize the thing that "YES, it's wonderful. It's more than fine. They'll love it. Even the cranky pots."; Wednesday was recovery from Tuesday and then visiting Dad mid-week for a social boost; Thursday I slept most of my evening because I hadn't gone to bed before midnight Sunday through Wednesday; Friday I worked and freaked out that I wasn't going to get anything done. Friday at 5, I was so happy the week was over, I went home. Saturday I woke up and freaked out because I hadn't paid my rent. Oh, and that I hadn't judged about four contest entries either.

So now it's Sunday finally and I don't have anything to blog about. Except the CALL THE MIDWIFE drama I watched between sleeping and freaking out. Don't worry. I'm using it for research.

1. Friendships between women always makes for interesting drama. And a group of women living in the same house, and sex is not an option because you took vows--GRUMPY women. No wonder they were freaking out when the cake was gone. Always try to work in a complicated girlfriend relationship or three; believe me, it's always much more complicated than the man-woman relationship in your story.

2. Gritty details. A lot of blood-and-mucus covered babies in this series. Really glad I'm a writer. I'm not at all good with bodily fluids.

3. Chummy. She is adorable and my favorite character. She's plucky, awkward, and kind to her core. And she is determined to make a good midwife no matter what. She's the underdog everyone roots for.

4. Officer Noakes--who can't fall instantly in love with a man who sees the beauty in Chummy? Together they are painfully shy. If it weren't for Sister Evangelina, they would never gotten around to going on a date at all. They just would have stared at each other.

5. The Secret. Jenny Lee, the midwife who narrates the show, is running from a past, from a man she cannot have. A married man. Ah, how you wonder about her. She is so sweet and so earnest, you wonder how she fell in love with him and your heart breaks as you see her keeping her distance, but unable to love elsewhere.

6. The Get-Rich-Quick Schemer/Handyman. He always makes for comic relief. He's there to keep up the house and fix things for the nuns, but he can't help but contemplate a scheme that will make him money so he can retire and live off the fat. Quails. Toffee apples. Bacon. He has no shortage of ideas. There is no shortage of ways how this wreaks havoc on everyone that lives there.

7. The Unrequited Love. Jimmy loves Jenny, but Jenny--as I stated before--is still heartbroken over another. She wants passion and chemistry in a love affair, not merely friendship.

8. The Loss. Giving birth seems rather...a given now. As if you could survive just about anything that could complicate a birth. But go back a few years, and there was the real possibility of eclampsia and hemorrhaging and God knows what else. (After watching Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife, I am convinced if I had gotten pregnant, I would have gotten eclampsia and died. No doubt.) But through a few short episodes, you become attached to these young couples, and it is heartbreaking as they lose a child...or a husband loses his wife.

9. The Plenty. Yet despite the hazards of giving birth, the children are plentiful. One of the characters has 25 children. They keep saying how the husbands won't wear a sheath. Wow. Just wow. Clearly in historical romances, these happy couples aren't having enough children. They should be doubling or quadrupling the numbers here.

10. How relevant it is today. While on the one hand, I'm thanking heaven for the Pill, on the other, I think "This is so now too." It's still the Universal, even if it's 50 years ago and seemingly in a completely different time. And not just a century, but the 1950s are as incomprehensible to us as the 1750s would be...or the 1350s. Yet despite that it's so...foreign, the hopes, dreams, loves, and losses shared are ones we have and experience everyday.

Has anyone else watched CALL THE MIDWIFE? Anyone else totally blown away at just how recent "freedom for women" has come about?

19 comments:

Maureen said...

I'm old enough to remember a whole lotta of perceptions and how they have changed. Not really enough to remember actual discrimination.

Sounds like a complicated show! And I'm not even sure what eclampsia is!

Medically, and in so many ways, there is still so much more to do. I mean, really...viagra for men but still no cure for breast cancer? And the whole new struggles???

Would be very easy to be discouraged...

MsHellion said...

Mo, I think you and I are in the same boat. I remember more perceptions than actual discrimination--but when I was in grade school, women had just started to become astronauts and go into space (Sally Ride) and a lot of it was all "Whatever boys can do..." (Girls can do better.)

But there were issues that still bugged me. Still bug me now. Like rape culture. Sex shaming. The almost reverse snobbery if you stay home with your kid now (though this might be going away finally--but I know for a while, if you didn't work after you had kids, you were too poor or too dumb or most likely, too lazy.

Eclampsia is...well, they don't know really what it is, but it's a toxicity of the blood. There's no real cure for it--definitely not then, but now they either abort the kid or do a C-section if it gets too dicey. I think they keep you on bedwatch and pump you with anti-convulsion drugs, so you don't get the seizures. It's supposed to be rare, but the British dramas certainly like to use it in their scripts lately.

Maureen said...

The sex thing...the stud if a guy, slut if a girl still irks the hell out of me. Rape culture...and I know the whole reverse thing that was envogue for a while, regard non-out-of-the-home working women...always bothered my mom and I have a niece in law who is sensitive on the subject.

What pisses me off is the intrusion into women's rights and lives by the religious, the government, everyone...

quantum said...

You just have to meet the right man (or woman in my case) and all these problems/irritations become irrelevant. I tend to ignore most of it and float off on a cloud of blissful ignorance, enjoying life, beauty, passion, science and books.

If you would like some high tech help in coping with these issues I can suggest a free brain wave entrainment audio: http://www.brainwavelove.com/product-reviews/the-morry-method/

Oh yes, the TV drama! Afraid I've not heard of 'Call the Midwife' ... blissful ignorance I guess! LOL

Janga said...

I came of age in the 1960s, and I'm old enough to remember when abortions were illegal and dangerous, cohabitation was a scandal, some law schools didn't admit women, and a girl's career choices were mostly a matter of choosing to be a teacher, a nurse, or a secretary. Of my group of eight close girlfriends in high school, only two of us were unmarried at 21. I remind myself of these things when I grow nostalgic about simpler, safer times.

Terri Osburn said...

I used to think I was born a century late, then as I learned more about history was very happy about the timing. I didn't realize until recently that the freedom women have today (in our country at least) is still so relatively new. Though we've a long way to go in the work place. Which irks me to no end.

I've seen one or two episodes of CALL THE MIDWIFE. I think I watched last weeks about the couple who had the baby born with leg issues and the neighbors all shamed them because he wasn't perfect. They were going to put him in a home and the dad gambled that the mom wouldn't be able to do it. Thankfully, he was right.

Isn't there some kind of love story with the vicar and one of the ladies? I've caught bits of that. And the nuns crack me up. Trust me when I say they are quite realistic.

Marnee Bailey said...

I haven't seen this drama. I had to look it up. But it looks really interesting.

Janga, I love your comment about simpler safer times. :) Like when I think about times without cell phones now, how panicked I'd get if my car broke down somewhere and no one would know, I remind myself that cell phones have their purposes. And that's just a small thing. :)

MsHellion said...

Mo, as Hilary says repeatedly, "It's all about control." They want to control women...which suggests to me we're powerful and capable and a little dangerous. We shouldn't waste it.

MsHellion said...

You just have to meet the right man (or woman in my case) and all these problems/irritations become irrelevant. I tend to ignore most of it and float off on a cloud of blissful ignorance, enjoying life, beauty, passion, science and books.

That's okay. I feel a little bad for guys nowadays because there is a whiplash trend where men all have to be Super Men: giver of orgasms, cooker of dinner and cleaner of house, carer of babies... Women already knows how hard and impossible that was to be for us all those years...just say, "Look, just do your best. You can't do it all."

And ignorance is bliss. *LOL* Or at least looking at the problem and going, "Is this actually my problem? No? Then let's not make it."

MsHellion said...

Janga, some things were "safer", I would imagine--but not all things. And not always better. And everything was so much more work then. *LOL* EVERYTHING.

MsHellion said...

Terri, the nuns are hysterical. Which I think is less about how nuns behave in group and much more about how women behave in a living group, Christian or not. *LOL* I didn't see that episode...this one was about a father who was dying, his daughter that was giving birth out of wedlock...and there was this moment at the end that Dad, Marsha and I all went: "Awwww" as the dying man held his grandson and cooed over him.

MsHellion said...

Marn, I'm like that now. I'll be halfway to a store--5 miles away--and realize I forgot my phone at home. What if I need it? I can't remember anyone's number anymore! It's in the phone!

P. Kirby said...

"I remind myself of these things when I grow nostalgic about simpler, safer times."

The myth of the good old days, the halcyon safer, politer days is just that. A myth. Speaking as a woman and a minority, I have no particular longing for the "happier" days, the days when my choices would have been limited both because of my race and ethnicity. When it was "polite" to discriminate against African American, Mexicans, et al. Meh.

I don't even know my cell phone's number (it's written on a sticker on the back), and the thing is off 99.99% if the time, because I'm not a phone person. But even I like having the reassurance that's it's there in case of an emergency.

Maureen said...

I always loved that scene in one of the last original cast Star Trek movies, when Bones is in the 'modern' hospital, looking for Chekhov...hands a pill to a moaning woman on a cot and she grows a new kidney...

Ah, the good old days!

MsHellion said...

You mean they've stopped discriminating against Mexicans? If I hear one more word about immigrants are going to bleed welfare dry, I'm going to set some welfare corporation on FIRE. Gah.

I'm also amazed I remember my cell phone #; and I also don't like being on the phone. My phone manner is "What is it? It better be good."

MsHellion said...

Mo, that sounds funny. *LOL* Those would be some nice good-old-days to have.

irisheyes said...

Never even heard of CALL THE MIDWIFE, Hellie. It looks great, though. I'll have to check it out. I haven't watched regular TV in decades and now I'm really enjoying the options open to me now - especially not having to be parked in front of my TV at the same time every week or I'll miss something. That is definitely one advancement I LOVE. I can rent a whole series at the library or watch it at my leisure on Netflix, etc. I'm definitely adding this to my list.

I know the whole culture of life back then is going to make my skin crawl. With period pieces over 100 years ago it's sort of like fantasy but right around the 50's and 60's it kind of hits close to home. It is astonishing how evolved we've all become and how far we still need to go. I feel like we always trade one stereotype, prejudice, whatever you want to call if for another - you're a rotten mother if you worked in the 70's and a rotten mother if you didn't in the 90's. As Rosanne Rosanna Danna would say... It's always something!

And I think I must be the exception because I have NEVER felt as if I wished I was born earlier or at a different time. History intrigues and fascinates me but I'm happy I'm where I'm at now in 2013! LOL

Maureen said...

Aye, Hels...one person's good old days is another person's horror...

MsHellion said...

Irish, the culture doesn't bother me near as much as the lack of options. No Pill. Men not wearing a sheath. (Latter can be a problem STILL.) Being pregnant for 20 years and having 20+ babies--I mean who wouldn't throw themselves in the river? Who can raise those kids on pennies? Poverty...poverty hasn't changed much. *LOL* So that part bothers me but doesn't--it just makes me glad that the Pill became available so there could be more family planning management. The desperate wives on their 11 or 12 pregnancy and seeking out illegal, dangerous abortions--horrible.