“Death is a mother…” Borstein tells The Hollywood Reporter. “We’re all looking down the barrel of it, and we’re all facing it, and if you can’t turn your head and look into that, you will miss so much more.”
Created by Will Scheffer and Mark V. Olsen (Big Love), Getting On follows the staff of a downtrodden hospital’s geriatric care unit as they navigate life and death with their aging female patients.
Borstein, also known for her role as Lois on Seth MacFarlane‘s veteran animated Fox comedy Family Guy, potrays the head ward nurse, Dawn Forchette (whom she describes as “a beautiful mess”). The actress promises more darkly funny, twisted humor in the show’s upcoming second season, which returns Nov. 9. Fans can expect Dawn and Nurse Patsy’s (Mel Rodriguez) relationship to continue its roller coaster, and at one point, Dawn, Dr. Jenna James (Laurie Metcalf) and Nurse Didi (Niecy Nash) all find themselves in a bit of jeopardy.
For the unfamiliar, Borstein acknowledges that a show about nurses in a down-and-out end-of-life care unit can be a hard sell, especially when that show is supposed to be a comedy. “A lot of people when they first hear Getting On and what it’s about are like, ‘I don’t want to watch that; it sounds depressing,’ ” she says. But the actress praises the complex, layered material and notes that there is so much more to Getting On than just death and gloom.
“There are tears, there is laughter, there is dark, there is light,” Borstein says of the show, which filmed five episodes in just six weeks. “I feel like it walks a line that no other show walks, between laughing one minute and finding yourself touched in the next.”
One of her best arguments for why people should watch is deeply personal. “Everybody has a mom. This is going to happen to everyone’s mom. Or you’re the mom yourself. A lot [of people] don’t want to look at that,” she explains, pointing to her own experience. “Those moments sitting by my grandmother’s bedside while she was going — it was so hard, but it was also so funny, and so rich, and so joyful, and so memorable.”
“If I wasn’t able to look at that dark side, I would have never seen the light side,” she points out, perfectly encapsulating her own show.
Getting On‘s second season premieres Nov. 9 at 10:30 p.m. on HBO.