“The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy” Is Gayer “Grey’s Anatomy” in Space

Prime Video’s The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy is more than just Grey’s Anatomy in space…though it’s not NOT that. It, too, has wild accidents and tons of coworkers sleeping together. But perhaps the most important thing The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy has that Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t is Keke Palmer playing a queer, anxious surgeon and Stephanie Hsu playing her rule-breaking best friend.

Dr. Klak (Palmer) and Dr. Sleech (Hsu) are top surgeons at the titular hospital, but they’re also known for going a bit rogue. They’re a “save the patient first, ask for forgiveness later” kind of duo.

Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy: klak and sleech prepare to do surgery

This is neither here nor there but I love Klak’s little three-lens glasses.

Dr. Klak, who suffers from anxiety and who was raised as the main subject of her psychologist mother’s work, is queer. We see a flashback where she talks about the girl she’s seeing, Slug Girl (and has a hilariously relatable queer moment where she says, “She just canceled our plans, should I tell her I love her?”) and she has an on-again/off-again relationship with genderless alien Dr. Azel, voiced by genderqueer singer (and now voice actor!) Sam Smith. And this shouldn’t be newsworthy, but it is: They let us know Azel uses they/them pronouns without fanfare. They simply had Klak and Sleech use they/them pronouns for Azel and that was that. This show does a great job normalizing queerness and gender-neutral pronouns. They’re the most normal things about this universe, and they are treated as such.

Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy: klak and sleech talk on hologram call to Dr. Azel

Sadly there is no musical episode despite the amount of vocal talent in this cast. Maybe next season!

And Dr. Klak and Dr. Azel aren’t the only queer character on board. (Granted, they’re all aliens, so it’s possible they’re all queer, but by our human metrics, these are the ones who are confirmed to be so.)

Maya Rudolph voices Dr. Vlam, a robot intern who says she has had “so many wives, so many husbands, and so many poly compounds” in the many centuries she’s been alive. Also, Abbi Jacobson plays a cute doctor, Zypha, that sends Dr. Klak into a tizzy.

You’ll also hear other familiar voices throughout the series, like Lennon Parham, Tracee Ellis Ross, Bowen Yang, and, in the form of a sometimes invisible, always sardonic nurse you will hear the unmistakable timber of Natasha Lyonne.

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy is created by Cirocco Dunlap, who previously wrote on Russian Doll and Miracle Workers. The show has a zany feel, and the wacky irreverence and surreal animation remind me a little of Tuca & Bertie, even though the actual style of animation is different. What it also has in common with Tuca & Bertie is that underneath all the antics and mayhem, there’s real character development and they tackle real issues — including corporate greed, colonization, and the medical industrial complex — couched either subtly or not-so-subtly in science fiction metaphors.

Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy: Vlam and Sleech lie on the floor next to a puddle of purple

I mean who HASN’T wanted to just lie down on the floor in the middle of work.

Speaking of sci-fi, the series also employs some of my favorite sci-fi tropes, including but not limited to a time loop, time travel, and a unique take on a body swap.

Klak and Sleech are the heart of the show. Whether they’re doing experiments together (not be confused with experimenting together) or having romantic hijinks separately, their friendship remains important to both of them. They’re a team, no matter what. And I love a show that centers female friendship in a realistic way. I know you raised an eyebrow when I said realistic because I’m talking about a hospital in space where the chief of surgery is a two-headed dragon-like creature that reminds me of Devon and Cornwall from Quest for Camelot. But it’s true! Sleech never really felt like she had a home until she met Klak, and Klak is her least anxious self when she’s around Sleech. Their friendship resembles friendships I’ve had more than on many other shows I’ve watched, even though I’ve never performed surgery on someone with a sentient brain worm.

They gently guide each other through poor choices and are there for each other when it all goes to shit. Sleech tries to find the balance between being supportive of Klak every time she goes back to Azel, while still refusing to forgive Azel for breaking Klak’s heart. Klak helps Sleech as she sorts her feelings out for Dr. Plowp (who, by the way, is voiced by Kieran Culkin, and whose real life brothers voice Plowp’s brothers in one episode), and lets her arrive at the hard conversations on her own terms, even if it means she has to jump down a trash chute or two along the way.

I personally found Klak specifically relatable, not only because she’s queer, but because she has anxiety and mommy issues. I relate to her singular focus, and her desperate desire to gain control of her own emotions. The way she relies on her friends to keep her in-check and remind her that her anxiety is not her fault, and, most importantly, that she is not her anxiety, all resonated.

There have been a slew of fun adult animation shows with solid queer representation in the past few years (Harley Quinn, Hazbin Hotel, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off) and I, for one, am here for it. This show is low-commitment, with only eight half-hour episodes, so sit back, relax, embrace the weird, and get ready to laugh along with the eclectic staff of the second best hospital in the galaxy.

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy streams on Prime tomorrow, Friday, Feb. 23. 

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Valerie Anne

Just a TV-loving, Twitter-addicted nerd who loves reading, watching, and writing about stories. One part Kara Danvers, two parts Waverly Earp, a dash of Cosima and an extra helping of my own brand of weirdo.

Valerie has written 548 articles for us.


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