Apple TV+‘s new series, Five Days at Memorial, revisits Hurricane Katrina by digging into what occurred at one hospital throughout the storm.
For the show’s cast members, it was definitely an experience taking on this show after realizing some of the troubles of our healthcare system were exposed as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. It begs the question– do we really learn from our mistakes?
In a recent interview with Shadow and Act, star Vera Farmiga said, “It’s striking the similarities [of] what we’ve gone through in the last several years of the pandemic, especially with our healthcare workers experiencing such extreme duress and being overworked….scrounging for PPE a couple years ago, finding enough beds for the patients, scrambling for ventilators [and] making really difficult decisions about who gets a space and who doesn’t in critical care units.
Farmiga plays Dr. Anna Pou, a doctor who is at the center of a lawsuit that rocks the medical community after decisions had to be made during the storm.
“In many ways, [the show] was a tribute to them [healthcare workers],” she added. “We got to take care of the people who take care of us. In many ways, the story honors them and sheds a spotlight on them.
With Jones’ character, Susan Mulderick, it showcases what happens when a chain of command isn’t built to actually provide support to those who need it.
She explained to us, “This woman…this character who had been there for 30 years was, in fact, the best person for the job, but the horrors she must have felt when she realized that there was a plan for everything else in the book– except how to evacuate 2000 people in 10 ft. floodwaters around the hospital. I think it was so unimaginable. They had always prepared for hurricanes, but not for the levees breaking. I have such sympathy for for my character’s position. I just marvel at a mind that can keep trying to solve all the issues she was having to deal with.”
And Oduye’s Karen Wynn not only had to deal with everything that was going on as healthcare worker, but being a Black women during a time where Black people were impacted the most by this travesty.
The actress explained it as Black folks moving through the world with our on point of view but having to still do our shops.
“We have to still show up and do our jobs,” she said. “And what does that mean of setting things aside [and] even doubling down more on our jobs? That’s the dance or choice that particularly with this character of Karen, when she’s like, ‘I have a job to do, I’ve got to take care of these people.’ She’s like– we’re all tired, we’re all exhausted…there’s a lot of things happening. There’s a lot of things I don’t have control over, but what I have control over is the care of my staff and my patients and she just kind of goes all in, because that’s what needs to be done.”
Watch the full interviews below featuring Farmiga, Jones, Oduye, Julie Ann Emery and Cornelius Smith Jr.
Five Days at Memorial premieres on Apple TV+ on Friday.