I was invited to a party mid-way through my chemo. I declined the invitation for three reasons:
- At the time, I was usually in bed by 8pm.
- Chemo had hit me badly and it was all I could do to move from bed to sofa and back again.
- I only had two topics of party small-talk conversation – chemo side effects and TV boxsets.
Yes, boxsets. How I loved a box set during my chemo days. The perfect way to spend the nausea filled days between getting up in the morning and going to bed in the evening. Binge watching a box set takes you to another place, another time, another life and allows you to momentarily forget the here and now – the perfect distraction from the world of breast cancer. Box sets make the days pass quickly – helping to get you to the end of the cancer treatment as quickly as possible. And when you feel like you have been hit by a train for days and days on end (sometimes weeks) you need gentle things to do, in order to get through the days staying sane. You can’t get much more gentle than lying on the sofa watching a box set.
Now, the art of box set watching requires certain tools: a TV streaming service. There are plenty out there. For me, I turned to Sky, Amazon Prime and Netflix. Maybe I went overboard, but personally all three become something of a lifeline – allowing me to distract myself from the daily drudge of chemo side effects.
Once you have the streaming service, you need some recommendations and, as I said, it is my party small-talk topic and I can go on about boxsets for hours. So here is my list of recommendations (in no particular order). I should point out that some of the shows are free (or rather, they are part of your subscription), whilst others have an additional charge. The streaming services change this every now and again, so what you may need to pay for now, may become included in the subscription in a few months so it is worth going for the included shows first and checking back every now and again.
So, if you are looking for distracting, easy viewing and sometimes-far-fetched entertainment, this list is for you.
- Game of Thrones. I missed this first time round when it appeared on our TV screens. I have to admit that I didn’t fancy the whole dungeons and dragons feel to it. Towards the end of chemo, when I had run a little bit dry on the boxset options, I thought “why not” and I decided to give it a go. OMG!!! Favourite box set of all. I. ABSOLUTELY. LOVED. IT. Fantastic cast, characters, landscapes and clever stories.
- Downton Abbey. Again, I missed Downton Abbey the first time around but it received such hype that I thought I would give it a go. And I wasn’t disappointed. Whilst some may say that there isn’t much depth to the story lines, when you are feeling pretty awful and very tired, this is the perfect programme to turn to. Beautiful costumes, likeable characters, great storylines and it has a special way of taking you back in time to the period in question. Top marks for distraction-ability.
- Narcos. This is on Netflix and is based on the true story of Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drug lord of the 1970s to 1990s. The show is in English and Spanish (with English sub-titles). Don’t let that put you off. This show is AMAZING. Not only does it have a pretty catchy theme tune (you know when you like a theme tune and don’t fast forward through it) but it has a fantastic cast, great cinematography, a brilliant story and is a throw back to the 1980s. You need to concentrate on this one because of the subtitles and also the fairly complicated nature of the Colombian drug rings. But it is brilliant. You’ll be speaking Spanish by the time you finish these two seasons.
- The Crown. Again a Netflix series. There have been two seasons so far and I love, love, love, it. Based on the life of Queen Elizabeth II from just before her ascension to the throne, it follows members of the royal family from the late 1940s onwards. The cast is amazing. The sets are authentic. The storyline is interesting. It takes you to another time and place. And before you know it, you will be speaking like the Queen.
- Stranger Things. Another Netflix series. There are two seasons. Think of this as The Wonder Years (remember that from the 1980s) meets Alien. Totally enthralling. Completely unbelievable, but that isn’t the point. You will fall in love with the main characters and you will want to jump on your hopper to join them in their adventures. LOVED IT.
- Alias Grace. Yes, another Netflix series. This time a short series. I love all Margaret Atwood books so I was looking forward to watching this. And I think it was done well. Definitely worth watching.
- The Handmaid’s Tale. This is available on various networks. It is another Margaret Atwood book (yippee) and it is brilliant. A really good reflection of the book. This is definitely worth watching. And again, given the storyline, it is a great distraction from all things breast cancery.
- American crime dramas. I am collating a few American crime dramas together in this list. These are, on the whole, fast paced with each episode following a different story and an overarching story across all episodes. They are easy to watch and, again, they rate high on distraction-ability. I am thinking here of: Designated Survivor (Netflix), Scandal (Sky), NCIS: Los Angeles (Sky), Elementary (Sky), Suits (Sky), Blindspot (Sky), True Detective (Sky – two seasons and the first is BRILLIANT), The Wire (Sky), Fargo (multiple seasons – LOVE this by the way) and The Blacklist (Sky).
- American dramas. Again, a collection of shows in this category are worth recommending: The Affair, Big Little Lies and Billions (all Sky).
I still have a few boxsets waiting to be watched, currently on my to-view list are:
- Peaky Blinders
- Twin Peaks (the new series – not the one from the 80s)
Now, where did I put that remote…
If this was of interest to you, why not follow me on Twitter where I am continually tweeting and retweeting TV and film recommendations…