Like a Danish Call the Midwife with female and male nurses, the first season of the hit period drama The New Nurses premieres in the US tomorrow.
A nominee for the 2019 Nordic Film & TV Fond Prize and Prix Europa award, and a selection at the Festival de la Fiction de La Rochelle in France and Serielizados in Spain, The New Nurses (Sygeplejeskolen) is a delightful light drama series that follows the first group of co-ed nursing students in 1950s Denmark — and through their stories looks at social issues of the day (and today), including gender and class prejudices.
The series opens in 1952 Copenhagen, at the Fredenslund Hospital, where former soldier Erik Larsen (Morten Hee Andersen, Ride Upon the Storm) meets with matron Margrethe Lund (Benedikte Hansen, Unit One) about admitting him into the new experimental co-ed nurse training program. Its inclusion of male students makes it a controversial program, but there is a severe shortage of nurses in post-war Denmark, and the hope is that bringing male nurses into the fold will help to combat it.
Although Erik and Margrethe have history, she can’t bend the rules any more than she has already to accommodate him — until something changes her mind and she grants Erik a place in the class. His working class father doesn’t understand why his son is choosing nursing over being a soldier, but Erik’s mind is made up. So is Anna Rosenfeld’s (Molly Blixt Egelind, Heartless). Against her father’s wishes, she’s leaving her boyfriend and his wealthy family for a career in nursing. What the posh girl doesn’t leave at home is her designer furniture. Too bad for fellow student Peter Rømer (Mikkel Hilgart, A Fortunate Man) that she’s brought it (and a lot more expensive stuff) to Fredenslund, as it lands him in the hospital as a patient.
Impressed by Anna’s fashionable possessions is her roommate, Susanne Møller (Asta Kamma August, Follow the Money), who grows closer to Erik’s roommate, Bjørn Toft (Jesper Groth, The Purity of Vengeance), as Erik and Anna do to each other — despite their slightly rocky start — over the course of the four-month training program. (As an aside, Erik delivers up some zingers at Anna’s expense that had me laughing out loud.)
It doesn’t sound like a long time, but it’s four months of much misery for the students — especially the young men — owing to the disrespect toward and ill treatment of them by chief physician and Ward B department head Bent Neergaard (Jens Jørn Spottag, The Legacy) and head nurse Ruth Madsen (Anette Støvelbæk, Seaside Hotel). And these two aren’t the only ones holding tightly to old conventions and longstanding prejudices while the young adults are trying to make a positive difference.
Still, it’s not all books, tests, doom, and gloom, though. The students do get to help patients, and also do their fair share of drinking beer, listening to records and live music, and dancing, not to mention flirting and kissing…
Featuring in the first season are Mikael Birkkjær (Borgen), Katrine Greis-Rosenthal (The Bridge), Anders Heinrichsen (The Team), Thue Ersted Rasmussen (Dicte), Anna Stokholm (Minkavlerne), and Ulla Vejby (Seaside Hotel).
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