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The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy is a queer utopia dripping in laughter, friendship & fluids

'The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy' is a queer utopia dripping in laughter, friendship & fluids

Maya Rudolph, Cirocco Dunlap, and Natasha Lyonne
Courtesy of Prime Video

PRIDE sat down with Natasha Lyonne, Maya Rudolph, and Cirocco Dunlap to talk about their cheeky new animated series.

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It has been said that all activism is, in effect, science fiction. That’s because it requires the imagination to believe in a better and different world to organize and push for change.

While The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy, a new adult animated series headed to Prime Video this month, isn’t activism per se, at its core is this same dream of a better world where gender is no longer strictly binary, sexuality is a celebrated spectrum, and queerness and otherness is the norm. And that is entirely by design, showrunner and executive producer Cirocco Dunlap tells PRIDE. “It’s a utopic future rather than a dystopic one — it’s the ideal,” she explains.

Queerness is fused into the DNA of the series, which stars LGBTQ+ actors including Keke Palmer, Stephanie Hsu, Sam Smith, Bowen Yang, and Abbi Smith — alongside queer faves like Tracee Ellis Ross, Kieran Culkin, Natasha Lyonne, and Maya Rudolph. It’s a parody of hospital-based dramas but with a subversive sci-fi twist. Set in the year 14002, the series follows Dr. Sleech (Hsu) and Dr. Klak (Palmer) — aliens, best friends, and intergalactically renowned surgeons — who have to face off with all manner of sci-fi illnesses like anxiety-eating parasites, illegal time loops, and deep-space STIs. This creates ample opportunity for both gross-out humor and profound meditations on friendship, sexuality, mental health, identity, and, yes, sexuality.

Watch PRIDE’s full interview with Natasha Lyonne, Maya Rudolph, and Cirocco Dunlap below

For Dunlap, this inclusive “utopia” is a reflection of her upbringing in San Francisco. “My mom is bi, my dad was gay, my sister was in a polyamorous relationship and that was my growing up experience,” she recalls. “It was this whole world that I just took for granted. I was so lucky to have that be my baseline. So, creating this show, was the baseline for me. It was very important for me to reflect that.”

That inclusivity was also meaningful for Lyonne, who also serves as executive producer on the show. “[Queerness is] really baked into the DNA of it. And I love that in 14002, this is just the way it is, which is essentially what it is in 2024 and should be,” she tells PRIDE.

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy still

Courtesy of Prime Video

If anything, it’s this vision of the future that drew Rudolf to the project both as a star and as an executive producer. “When Cirroco brought us this world, I felt so excited for everyone to see into her vision, I think there’s something elevated about it, knowing that it takes place in the future, it’s sort of like this is where we should be, but we’re not,” Rudolph tells PRIDE.

To bring the series to life, they assembled an all-woman and genderqueer writing room, which was revelatory for Dunlap, who started out her writing career working on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, where she was the sole woman on the writing staff. “To be able to create this sort of environment where I was not [the only woman in the room] and nobody else was having that experience either was really special to me, it felt really wonderful. Then being able to reflect that then in the show was a dream,” says Dunlap.

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy still

Courtesy of Prime Video

Staffing the show the way they did ended up creating a unique and unexpected dynamic. “It becomes post-gender in a way,” explains Lyonne. “You end up sort of moving past these ideas we’ve had historically about a boy or a girl or any of that kind of stuff in creating sort of our own world or our own vision for what life can be like. That’s what’s so special about having lady producers, lady writers, lady creators, is you end up with this thing where you weirdly don’t have to talk about lady stuff anymore. You know what I mean? It doesn’t become that binary and weirdly breaks open the whole world.”

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy still

Courtesy of Prime Video

“It’s kind of going back to the queerness of the show,” adds Dunlap. “The baseline normal is different on the show than it is in our world. You can’t even really assume anyone’s gender. You have no idea what kind of cloaca they’ve got under there,” she says with a laugh.

While the show is unquestionably hilarious, joyful, transgressive, and packed with lovable characters and lush pastel art style, it’s all undergirded by a bold and hopeful vision of a future free of homonormativity and the oppressive constraints of binary. Just make sure to steer clear of those space STIs and anxiety worms.

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy premieres February 23 on Prime Video. Watch the trailer below.

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Rachel Shatto

EIC of PRIDE.com

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.

Rachel Shatto, Editor in Chief of PRIDE.com, is an SF Bay Area-based writer, podcaster, and former editor of Curve magazine, where she honed her passion for writing about social justice and sex (and their frequent intersection). Her work has appeared on Elite Daily, Tecca, and Joystiq, and she podcasts regularly about horror on the Zombie Grrlz Horror Podcast Network. She can’t live without cats, vintage style, video games, drag queens, or the Oxford comma.