The Netflix show Morocco: Love in Times of War offers only a limited look at Spanish wartime nursing in the 1920s. But the Spanish series, released in the U.S. in 2018, does include one fearless nursing leader.
January 2018 – This month Netflix released to the U.S. market the first season of Morocco: Love in Times of War, a 13-episode Spanish drama about nurses setting up a hospital for wounded Spanish soldiers in the North African city of Melilla during the 1920s Rif War. The show, originally titled Tiempos de Guerra, is basically a wartime soap opera. The nurse characters seem more like nursing students, at least for a while, since they have been drawn from upper class Madrid families without much training. There is one big exception: the Duchess of Victoria, María del Carmen Angoloti y Mesa, a real person played here by Alicia Borrachero. Carmen Angoloti is an expert, all-business force of nature. She doesn’t just train and lead the inexperienced nurses under her. She also fights the military/physician power structure to establish the hospital care systems as she sees fit, arguing for the independence of nursing and not hesitating to go over the military physicians’ heads to her ally the Queen of Spain. Angoloti considers herself to be rightly in charge of the hospital and tells the lead male officer and physician as much. Yet she displays a measure of compassion, avoiding the battle-axe stereotype. So the show offers one pretty great nurse leader, reminiscent of Florence Nightingale in her determination to help wounded soldiers overseas and not let male physicians get in her way. Angoloti’s status in the aristocracy doesn’t hurt her cause, of course. As for the other nurses, they mean well and do seem to learn over time, but they are pretty deferential and overwhelmed. And the show seems more focused on their romances with soldiers and physicians. There is some resemblance to The Crimson Field, the 2014 BBC series about nurses near the front lines in World War I. This Spanish show may have a bit more current resonance: Melilla remains a part of Spain to this day, despite being located on the Moroccan coast, to Morocco’s evident displeasure. And Tiempos de Guerra was supposed to be back for at least one more season, but it doesn’t seem like that ever transpired. The show was created by Teresa Fernández-Valdés, Ramon Campos, and Gema R. Neira.
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