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Recommended: This Is Going to Hurt on AMC+ and Sundance Now

Instantly appealing characters and startling jolts of dark humor set this British hospital drama apart from the pack.
  • Ben Whishaw and Ambika Mod in This Is Going to Hurt. (Photo: Anika Molnar/AMC)
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    This Is Going to Hurt | AMC+ and Sundance Now
    Seven-Episode Limited Series (Medical Drama) | TV-MA

    What's This Is Going to Hurt About?

    The overworked staff in the obstetrics ward of a London public hospital try to keep both their patients and their personal lives from flatlining.

    Who's involved?

    • Ben Whishaw (A Very English Scandal, the Daniel Craig Bond films) stars as Adam Kay, a mid-career OB/GYN who can save one patient's life and endanger another's in a single shift. He's got a smart mouth, which some people love, and a live-in boyfriend, which only some of his colleagues know about.
    • Newcomer Ambika Mod plays Shruti, a medical student in residency on the floor. She's risen from nothing to become a doctor, but she's still not certain she knows what she's doing.
    • Alex Jennings (The Crown) is a politically savvy, high-ranking doctor that everyone respects and/or fears.
    • Michele Austin (The Casual Vacancy) is the midwife that everyone counts on to do things well.
    • Rory Fleck Byrne, who's mostly been on British TV shows that Americans can't see, is Adam's boyfriend Harry. He's doing his best to navigate life with a workaholic doctor.
    • Harriet Walter (Succession) is Adam's disapproving mother. When he tells her he's gay, she refuses to acknowledge it until he also tells her he's engaged.
    • The actual Adam Kay writes every episode. The series, which premiered on the BBC before coming to AMC+ and Sundance Now, is based on his nonfiction book of the same name, about his own years as a public hospital doctor.

    Why (and to whom) do we recommend it?

    This may seem like a strange thing to say about a miniseries that features traumatic pregnancies, close-ups of babies being born by C-section, and an awful lot of visible blood, but for a certain type of drama fan, This Is Going to Hurt will be a welcome relief.

    That's because the show is pitched as the story of regular people who happen to have challenging lives. There are no soapy Grey's Anatomy-level theatrics, but there are plenty of engrossing stories about small, meaningful decisions that reverberate across multiple episodes. Likewise, there are no Nurse Jackie-style black comedy hijinks, but there are dark wisecracks in almost every scene that get these people through their endless days. (A particular favorite: When a testy patient says nobody will miss her if she dies, Adam retorts, "Oh, I don't know. The lion and the wardrobe would probably miss you."

    Plus, the action takes place in 2006, so there aren't even any period costumes or vintage medical procedures to create a sense of allure. The show simply trusts that its slice of life is interesting enough to keep us interested, and it's absolutely correct. It helps that Whishaw, who is so effortlessly charismatic in everything from London Spy to the Paddington movies, is at the center of things as his character tries to be a better doctor, boyfriend, friend, son, and person, in roughly that order. It also matters that Kay writes from his own experience, which surely contributes to the pile-up of details that make the show's characters so instantly knowable and their hospital world so believable.

    Pairs well with

    • The Outlaws, Prime Video's off-kilter crime drama about cons doing community service.
    • Empire Falls, the vintage HBO miniseries about the increasingly surprising connections between the residents of a small town.
    • Nurse Jackie, Edie Falco's Showtime hit that may indeed have broader jokes than This Is Going to Hurt, but is ultimately just as concerned with the knotty inner lives of a hospital staff.

  • This Is Going to Hurt
    The first episode premieres June 2 on AMC+ and Sundance Now. New episodes Thursdays through July 14.
    Created by: Adam Kay. Based on his book.
    Starring: Ben Whishaw, Ambika Mod, Alex Jennings, Michele Austin, Rory Fleck Byrne, and Harriet Walter.
    Directed by: Lucy Forbes and Tom Kingsley.
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    TOPICS: This Is Going to Hurt, AMC+, Sundance Now, Adam Kay, Alex Jennings, Ambika Mod, Ben Whishaw, Harriet Walter, Lucy Forbes, Michele Austin, Rory Fleck Byrne, Tom Kingsley