ChemoWorthy Television

I learned to speak English from watching television.  Literally.  My parents are holocaust refugees, and my mother had just come to this country when I was born.  The language of our house was Yiddish, and so I learned English from TV, especially newscasts.  It's why I sound more like Roger Grimsby than like the kids down the block.  Later, I would even get my first taste of Shakespeare from television.  

            When I started cancer treatment in 2006, my husband Rob and I indulged our television habit as never before -- if there was ever a time for distraction and entertainment, that was it.  

            My attachment to our television became even clearer to me when I visited my oncologist just before my first chemotherapy infusion.  He asked if I was nervous. To my surprise, I realized that not only was I not nervous, I was itching to get started already. Rob and I had brought our portable dvd player, and were waiting to watch the next episode of The Shield; I had to find out if that bastard Shane was finally going to get what was coming to him.  The only problem I had with that first infusion, in fact, was that it ended before our episode did!  The nurse was kind enough to keep pumping fluids into my IV, so that we could stay in the room until we finished it.  

            And so, the idea of chemo-worthy television was born.  Here is a brief list of television so good I could have enjoyed it even during chemo.  Of course, the list is completely subjective.  I'll add more over time.  If you have more suggestions or comments, let me know!




Arrested Development (original series, seasons 1-3)

Blackadder Series (especially 2 and 3)

The IT Crowd

Derry Girls

Freaks and Geeks

Master of None 


The Kominsky Method

Brooklyn Nine Nine 

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

Silicon Valley 

The Office (both British and American versions)

Nurse Jackie

30 Rock 
Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog


Coupling (British version)

The Larry Sanders Show

The Middle




Darker Comedy


Veronica Mars

You, Me, and the Apocalypse

The End of the F**cking World

Russian Doll   

Back to Life


Jewish Triptych

Shtisel           (Ultra Orthodox Jewish life)

Srugim           (Modern Orthodox Jewish singles life; think Jane Austen but full of Israeli Jews)

Russian Doll    (unaffiliated but well-informed; co-creator Natasha Lyonne was reportedly kicked out of Yeshiva

for selling pot)


The Wire


Happy Valley


The Americans

Sneaky Pete

Better Call Saul




Alias Grace

Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame)



Last Tango in Halifax


The Shield

Black Spot




La Mante

Occupied (Norwegian) 

Un Village Francais

Orphan Black 



The Top of the Lake
Life on Mars (British version)

The Returned (French version)


Downton Abbey

Battlestar Galactica (reimagined version 2004-2009)

The Sopranos (especially the first season)
Firefly  (story concludes in the movie Serenity)

Six Feet Under (note: about a family of undertakers; lots of mortality exploration)

Prime Suspect 1 - 7 

Homicide: Life on the Streets

Law and Order 

Friday Night Lights