A Talk with the Creator of ‘The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy’ Cirocco Dunlap

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy: two aliens with medical equipment look directly at the camera
Poster art courtesy Amazon Studios.

There’s a new futuristic animated comedy on the way, and it’s going to be on Amazon. In The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy, two aliens tackle anxiety-eating parasites, illegal time loops, and deep-space STIs.

I had the chance to sit down with The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy‘s creator, Cirocco Dunlap, who’s also the showrunner and one of the executive producers.

In a statement, Dunlap had written, “Like a traditional procedural, every episode introduces a new sci-fi illness (e.g. run-of-the-mill diseases like getting stuck in a time loop, or an STI that turns you into the last person you slept with). While this show is funny and absurd, a sci-fi hospital is also a natural place to explore deeper emotional themes like mental illness, chosen & rejected family, and – of course – how to find clothes that fit when you turn into the last person you slept with.”

So, I started the interview by asking Dunlap to talk a bit more about the show’s origins and how it was connected to mental illness.

“About four or five years ago, I had a second therapist tell me I should get on meds and I was very resistant,” she said. “As soon as I did: truly life-changing. So, in writing this show, I didn’t intend for it to be about anxiety but I think it was just going to be about that because it was such a massive part of my own life and my own experience. And I wanted to make it as funny and relatable and acceptable as I could.”

I asked what she was hoping to accomplish with the show. Dunlap continued, “I really want people to feel seen and accepted. I love having more driven characters in main roles. I love having people who are passionate about what they do and want to make the world better. And my own experience has been that I’ve always been really career-driven and hard-working. And I had big lofty goals. And I just think that’s cool to see.”

As for the idea itself, she said, it has always been a sci fi hospital procedure. She was thinking of the movie Groundhog Day, and how Bill Murry was stuck in a time loop. “Where would you go if you were stuck in a time loop? Like how would you get help? And I thought wouldn’t it be fun if they had a doctor they could go to and so these main characters in sci fi classics can become these tertiary characters in this show.”

two aliens with medical equipment stand over a body
Dr. Klak (Keke Palmer) and Dr. Sleech (Stephanie Hsu) get ready to operate. Photo courtesy Amazon Studios.

Futurama is obviously an influence on the show, but so was Fantastic Planet, Doctor Who, and Grey’s Anatomy. I asked why the show was animated, and she replied, “A lot of the ideas are very genre-based, absurdist, surrealist. It’s set in space, there’s, there’s black holes that elongate you like spaghetti and so it just really lent itself to an animated format.”

The two main characters are Dr. Sleech (Stephanie Hsu) and Dr. Klak (Keke Palmer), which were the two characters she came up with first. Dunlap said, “I’m a really big fan of female friendships on television. I just love women who really love each other unabashedly. That doesn’t mean they don’t call each other out in the series, which they do fairly frequently. But there’s just an unconditional love for each other and an unconditional respect. That was something I really wanted to see and foster.”

In one of the press releases, there was a note that one character (Dr. Azel) went by they/them pronouns. I asked about that inclusion into the show. Dunlap stated she got the idea from Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. “She looks at the characters, and it’s a gender fluidity that kind of ripples like a river on a person’s face,” she said. “That was the initial design for Azel, because I just thought it was so gorgeous. It proved to be a challenge with animation because it would look like a mistake. But we kept the they/them pronouns, and the actor is they/them as well.”

The Second Best Hospital in the Galaxy premieres all eight episodes on February 23 on Prime Video. More information can be found on the Amazon website.


Author: Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, podcaster, and all-round fangirl geek. She has been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others.

She also produces her own podcast, Contents May Vary, where she interviews geeky people about geeky things. You can see all her work (and social media channels) at angiefsutton.com.

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