Mercy Street is a 2016 television series, which currently airs on PBS. The series follows the American civil war and two volunteer nurses. The two nurses have substantially different opinions regarding the Civil War, both armies and their causes. The series has yet to conclude, but I’ve seen enough to formulate an opinion. So, is it worth a watch?
Mercy Street is likable in a handful of ways. The series explores the American Civil War and that hasn’t been done in quite some time. The show also shows the discrimination, which was rampant, during this period of time and the majority of it had nothing to do with skin color. In this sense, the show excels and could potentially open eyes to the harsh reality of the war. Unfortunately, that is about as good as it gets. From the very beginning, Mercy Street is plagued with unlikable characters. Enter Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). Mary is supposed to be Mercy Street’s merciful, kind nurse. Within the first hour of the show, she is anything, but a merciful nurse. She roams around aimlessly, makes jokes and attempts to refuse aid to wounded soldiers.
Mary is no worse than her male counterparts. They’re all obnoxious and ultimately push a serious subject into the depths of chaos and ludicrousness. Then, we have Mary’s nemesis, Emma Green (Hannah James). Emma sympathizes with the Confederate Army. During my short stint with the series, Emma was far more tolerable than Mary. However, her family is not. The Southern accents are ungodly terrible and closely resemble nails on a chalkboard.
Mercy Street should be dramatic, serious and very heart wrenching. The series embodies none of these traits. Some of the acting is hit or miss, but the script and dialogue are the real flaws. The show takes the seriousness and barbaric nature of the Civil War and turns it into a clown show, with unfunny jokes and unlikeable characters. As a big fan of Anzac Girls and other similar shows, Mercy Street could’ve and should’ve been excellent, but it is nowhere close. Do yourself a favor, skip Mercy Street and watch Anzac Girls. You might need subtitles, but the Australian drama is far better, far more serious and outperforms the shoddy American Civil War drama in every category.
Unfortunately, a 4 out of 10 is deserved here. Don’t bother.