PartnersJuly 22, 2015

Inside the Lightbox: Hallucinatory Comedies and Neurotic Doctors – What to Watch When You’re Sick


It’s that time of year. Everyone within a two metre radius of your work desk is sniffling, blowing their nose subtly into their sleeve on the bus and coughing loudly through the film at the cinema. You are being faced with giant, human-sized germs at every turn. So it’s no wonder you have been, are currently, or are about to get, very sick.

When faced with a sick day, often the ultimate question is not “how will I get better?” but “what TV am I going to watch?”. You don’t want to waste your time on informercials, or daytime talk shows. You’re on sick time. This is sacred, borrowed time that should not be taken lightly.

Luckily, we’ve been put through seven years of medical television training*, and have just the right TV shows to suit whatever sickness has descended upon you.

* not a real course.

Ailment: Deep Flu Delirium
Treatment: The Mighty Boosh

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.37.59 pm

Think your cellphone is a piece of toast? Slept in the bath? Dressed head to toe in paper towels? You sound like you are in just the right state for the surreal whimsy of The Mighty Boosh. The psychedelic series was born from the jewel-encrusted brains of Noel Fielding and Julian Barrett, both fur-wearing, sequin-sweating comedians. Fleshing out a whole new ‘Zooniverse’ of it’s own, The Mighty Boosh is full of song, dance, costumes and characters that live in that very special twilight zone between hilarious and terrifying. It is perhaps the oddest corner of the television universe, and if you are seeing stars it will make the experience all the more spellbinding.

Ailment: Faking a Sickie
Treatment: Peep Show

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.40.47 pm

Okay, so you’re a bad person. You’ve lied, but you probably deserve a day off. If you are feeling bummed out about your life choices and want to waste your precious free day wallowing with people much like yourself – you’ll be among friends with Peep Show. Following two man-boys Jez and Mark, the comedy gets inside their terrible minds to reveal just how bad people can be. There’s a certain glee in recognising their deepest, most neurotic thoughts – and you’ll realise that everyone is just as bad as each other. Enjoy your day off.

Ailment: Your Kid is Sick
Treatment: Yo Gabba Gabba

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.48.44 pm

So, your small person is sick – what the heck are you going to watch together that will ease their pain and not give you a tension headache? Father of a young ‘un Henry Oliver explains why Yo Gabba Gabba! caters enthusiastically to both parent and child:

“My daughter likes Yo Gabba Gabba! partly because I like it, so I’m happy to put it on for her… If you have a kid (or live with someone who’s a kid at heart) and have control of the TV, Yo Gabba Gabba! is about as appealing as you’re going to get for a Gen X/Y parent: the music is great, hi-energy genre-hopping pop with extremely catchy hooks, and every episode features at least one cool guest you can feel good about exposing your kid to.”

Ailment: Winter Blues
Treatment: Green Wing


If you have got a severe case of the glums, Green Wing could be just the medicine you need. It’s got laughs, and it’s set in a hospital, so you’ll be fine. Starring Tamsin Greig and Stephen Mangan, the bonkers UK comedy opts for surrealist comedy blurred with soap opera-style twists and turns as the doctors negotiate each others’ endless oddities. I’m talking squirrel costumes, I’m talking keyboards in the operating room, I’m talking a live camel walking around the waiting room. It’s like the mutant twin of Scrubs was locked in a basement and fed only batteries and cheezels to survive. Better than laughing gas – guaranteed.

Ailment: 24 Hour Bug
Treatment: Law & Order SVU


The room is spinning, you are alternating between hot and cold sweats and setting up a new life for yourself in the coolest corner of the bathroom. This is the 24 hour bug, a malady so ruthless that some may think there is no end in sight. If you need reassurance that time heals everything, try a few episodes of Law and Order: SVU. Each procedural case is contained within one episode – a problem arises and is resolved within a tidy 42 minutes. As sure as the sun will rise, the coppers will catch the bad guys and your terrible bug will pass. Especially if Ice-T has anything to do with it.

Ailment: Horrific Head Cold
Treatment: Friday Night Lights

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.46.35 pm

A good head cold (by which I mean a ferocious one which feels like someone’s piped glue into all your cranial passages) makes the world you so recently called home feel a distant place, to which you might never return. You can barely breathe, see, hear or taste – and smell is a sense you can’t even imagine. What you need during this brutal battle is a dose of domesticity (for reassurance) with a side order of sports-as-war (for the strength to defeat your attacker). Enter Coach Taylor, the greatest speech-maker this side of Obama, and the high school football team he exhorts to defy the odds and reach transcendence. For those who don’t love sports, it’s secretly a pretty minor part of proceedings – his wife, Tami Taylor is school principal, and negotiates small-town politics and society with rare grace. A season or two in the dry Texas air and you’ll be back on earth again, promise.

Ailment: Unknown
Treatment: House

Screen Shot 2015-07-22 at 2.59.44 pm

If you are feeling a little ‘off’, but can’t quite put your finger on it – House could be your one stop diagnosis shop to confirm that you probably definitely have a tapeworm living inside you. Our own resident hypochondriac Sophie Smith shares how House helped her overcome her health fears:

“Much like the popularity of the horror film genre, I am drawn to House because it frightens me. On the one hand, House does make me worry about conditions and diseases that I’m very unlikely to have (rationally I know that it would be very unusual for the average person in New Zealand to contract African Sleeping Sickness, but at the time I was entirely convinced). But on the other hand, exposure and normalisation to the idea of disease helps me to work through my anxiety.”


Click here to collect all the television medication you need including The Mighty Boosh, Peep Show, Friday Night Lights, Yo Gabba Gabba and House on Lightbox today.

Also: this content, like everything we do at The Spinoff, is brought you thanks to the truly wonderful people at Lightbox. Do us and yourself a favour by clicking here to start a FREE 30 day trial of this truly wonderful service.

Keep going!