Growing Old and Getting On With It

It’s a new year. Let’s try something new.


Joan and me circa 1974. Still laughing now.

My good friend Joan in Cleveland (via Brooklyn by way of Ithaca and the Twin Cities, with close ties to Chicago and formerly St. Louis, but now Houston) recently sent me an email in which she related a new HBO comedy, very black comedy, Getting On, which takes place in a nursing home.

In an interview on NPR,  “the series creators [Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer who brought us HBO’s Big Love] spoke of the amazing elderly actresses who have roles in the series,” Joan wrote me, “and who still possess beauty and great skills.”  She continued, “This may be something for your blog – strong, gorgeous and talented geriatric actresses.  Just an idea I’d love to read about.”

Oh, okay.  I’ve never honored any blog requests.  Actually, I’ve never had any blog requests, but I thought that this sounded intriguing. Let’s give it a go.

When checking out Getting On, based on a BBC program of the same name, I found out that Laurie Metcalf is one of the stars of the American version of the show.  Laurie Metcalf!  She might be over fifty (she’s fifty-eight, but doesn’t look it) and qualifies for AARP, but I’d hardly call her geriatric. I realize it was decades ago, but I still think of her as Roseanne’s kid sister Jackie.

Metcalf plays Dr. Jenna James. Her character has been described as a frazzled physician more involved with her fetid feces-related research than she is with her befuddled patients. She co-stars with Niecy Nash and Alex Borstein, both playing nurses in the extended care facility and both barely into their forties, and Borstein is only five feet tall.  What am I missing?

Oh, yes, the patients.

I don’t know how old Betty Murphy is, but she played a middle-aged woman on Jag in 1995 and  an elderly woman on Monk in 2002.  She’s getting up there!  She also played the cat lady on Desperate Housewives and appeared on The Practice and The Office.  Here she is Fiona Sullivan.

Gitta Hall plays Ingrid Larsen.  The actress, born in 1933, was Miss Stockholm of 1952, so she’s been around. “LA is great if you’re an orange,” she once proclaimed. I bet she now considers LA great if you’re an aging actress.  Who would have thought it?

Ann Morgan Guilbert, 85 years old, might be the oldest of the bunch, as well as the liveliest.  In an early episode, her character is caught having sex with her boyfriend (Harry Dean Stanton, no spring pea himself) in the reception area.

Some of us know Guilbert as neighbor Millie Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show.  Another generation is familiar with her as Yetta Rosenberg from The Nanny with Fran Drescher.  And yet another generation will forever remember her here as Birdy Lamb.

Can’t wait to view Getting On?  Unfortunately, the six-episode series started at the end of November – last year, and it has completed its run.  Maybe it will be back for a second season.  If not, there’s always YouTube.

This blogger’s desk is now open.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved


  1. wow! wonderful!

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