We’ve all been there. You have a few drinks. Then a few more. And then, boom, you wake up the next day with your neurotransmitters gone haywire, your system flooded by congeners, the blood vessels in your head dilated to twice their size due to glutamate rebound, aching from mitochondrial dysfunction and the inflammatory response to being poisoned by a probable human carcinogen. Mate.
In that diminished state, you’re good for nothing. You’re duvet fodder. And so to pass the time while your enzymes get to work breaking down that acetaldehyde, you legend, you’re going to need company. Not actual company. Other people are what got you into this mess, probably. No, what you need are on-screen friends – softly spoken, slow-moving, on-screen friends who may well be doing something in a meadow, or near a pond. What you absolutely don’t want is action, loud noises, explosions, fast edits, anything stomach-churning or, heaven forfend, to watch a single drop of alcohol passing between a single idiot’s lips. In short, no Michael Bay films. Instead, you need something like the below, hand-picked by our writers. Over to them.
The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
The fact that Twilight Zone marathons are a proud New Year’s tradition certainly makes this an easy show to binge while you’re nursing a hangover, but this selection is about more than convenience or even the way that Rod Serling’s comforting voice can soothe your pounding headache. No, The Twilight Zone is the perfect hangover series because it offers a welcome combination of stories that are both comfortingly familiar and creatively varied. While nobody will blame you for sticking with the classics, try a few underrated episodes like ‘Shadow Play,’ ‘The Howling Man,’ and ‘The Midnight Sun’ if you think you can handle something new.
Worst Hangover Viewing: Leaving Las Vegas – Look, you know you drank too much last night. The last thing you need is to watch one of the cinema’s greatest depictions of the consequences of drinking. Matthew Byrd
When you’re nursing a hangover what you need, above all else, is for everything to just be chill. No loud noises, please – or flashing lights, or God forbid: weird smells. Thankfully there is one strangely riveting television show that is guaranteed to provide you with none of those things (and if you smell any TV show please consult a physician). Long-running series Antiques Roadshow is pure TV comfort food. One can easily spend an entire hungover morning, afternoon, or even evening by bingeing this pleasant auction series in which well-meaning goobers bring what they believe to be priceless artifacts to auction, experts analyze them, and then tell them how much grandma’s china is really worth.
Worst hangover viewing: Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Guy Fieri actually seems nice. I just can’t watch a man with frosted tips eat wings and nachos for hours on end. Alec Bojalad
Anne of Green Gables (1985)
I’ve specified the 1985 TV adaptation of L.M. Montgomery’s book series because that’s the apex of the ‘girls in straw hats’ genre, but really, you’d be safe with anything set in the late 1800s featuring a goat or a rustic fence on the DVD cover. Little House on the Prairie, Heidi, Little Women, What Katy Did, Anne With An E… they’ll all see you right. If you do decide to go Gables, then skip the episode in which Anne and Diana accidentally get wasted on a bottle of current wine they think is raspberry cordial. Otherwise, a feast of easily resolved disputes, jersey cows, and bucolic gads through flower-strewn fields awaits. Sit back – with care – and let the power of Canada cleanse you.
Worst hangover viewing: Dexter, or this video of a 1970s Mary Berry violating several fish. Louisa Mellor
Judy is not your friend (and don’t call her Judy). But for the most banging of hangovers she actually is your friend. Like the most reliable of buddies, she is there all the time (you can find a channel showing Judge Judy at almost any hour of the day). And like a delicious Subway sandwich, almost all episodes taste the same: broken engagements, unpaid loans, damaged property and settlements to a maximum of $5000. It’s a familiar dance with Judy pedalling out catchphrase after catchphrase, rooting out the truth, calling out the idiots and doling out justice.
The people are real, the cases are real, the rulings are final (as the show points out at the start of each episode). It’s a comfort. Because in most people’s real world, there isn’t always justice. We don’t have a hero like Judy to swoop in and enforce fairness. Life is unfair and sometimes it sucks. Inhabiting the sleepy world of Judy’s court, with Officer Bird standing sentry by Judy is a perfect antidote to beer blues and shame spirals. Also, there are a lot of adverts and a lot of recaps: annoying if you’re watching fully functional, but in hangover zone it just means you can drift in and out, watch with half an eye and still follow everything that’s going on.
Worst hangover viewing: American Horror Story. So much gore. So relentless. Nope. Rosie Fletcher
Singin’ in the Rain (1952)
If Singin’ in the Rain doesn’t sound like a perfect hangover movie, then perhaps you need to drink more. Because this Stanley Donen-directed toe-tapper is an absolute rush of kinetic joy and breezy fun—the kind that can distract you from that ache in your head and the sandpaper in your throat. Instead get lost in a pitch perfect MGM technicolor confection where Gene Kelly spins in rain puddles, Debbie Reynolds croons in A-flat major, and Donald O’Connor makes ‘em laugh, and laugh, and laugh some more.
Worst hangover viewing: Tenet. It makes our head hurt while sober as a judge on Sunday, so…. David Crow
Anne of Green Gables and now this? What is it about Canada that makes it produce excellent hangover cure content? Be forewarned, plenty of scenes in this half-hour comedy take place in the local bar, MoDean’s. And plenty of other scenes feature characters nursing a beer or two. But if you’re not so far gone that the mere sight of a neon Budweiser sign will kill you instantly, Letterkenny is excellent hangover entertainment. Letterkenny is a highly verbal experience. The vast majority of its jokes surround dextrous word play as its characters more or less just stand around in Ontario cornfields. Letterkenny is so dialogue-centric in fact that it sometimes comes across as an old-timey radio play with more dick jokes. That’s perfect for when you can’t bring your head out of the toilet, but still want to laugh. Alec Bojalad
BTS In the Soop
BTS has content for every occasion, but none of it is more chill than In the Soop, the two-season (and counting) series that sees the seven members of the hardworking Korean music group take a “break” (technically, they’re still working) from their busy schedules to hang out at a house in the country. (“Soop” is Korean slang for “forest.”) In the first season, BTS takes the time to engage in hobbies, from fish murder to casually masterful painting to rubberband glider construction. While the second season involves some hobbies (including BTS’ favorite sport, foot volleyball), the shorter, four-day stint mostly involves the various members sleeping, working out, and eating. If you’re looking for maximal cathartic relaxation, check out Season 1. But if you’re looking for dog content, check out Season 2, which features adorably eager Jungkook’s adorably eager Doberman, Bam.
Worst hangover viewing: BTS’ music video for “IDOL.” Too many colors. Kayti Burt
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (1 & 2)
When I’m hungover the last thing I want is anything that will make me worry – I just want to be comforted and sure that everything is going to be okay. In the My Big Fat Greek Wedding universe all peril is mild; the most tense storylines are concerned with people being embarrassed by their parents and their extended family or feeling awkward about being Greek. The films are heart warming, demand absolutely nothing from you and will leave you feeling like everything will be fine because Toula had a makeover and married Aidan from Sex and the City. They’re exactly what you need when you need to distract yourself from your beer fear (maybe avert your eyes from the whole lamb being roasted if you’re not ready for food). Opa!
Worst hangover viewing: Anything by Disney Pixar that starts off fun but is designed to catch you by surprise and leave you sobbing (see Coco). Elizabeth Donoghue
You wouldn’t think a reality show about lavish five-course gourmet dinners and lots and LOTS of booze would be a great hangover show, but I guarantee you the fat cats renting out these massive yachts are way more hungover than you the morning after. Despite the show being about a jaded crew of yachties serving the incredibly wealthy on a mega yacht that doubles as a floating party boat, the vibe’s actually pretty chill for the most part. Most of the time, you’re treated to stunning views of the Caribbean or the Mediterranean, and the soothing sounds of the ocean – just the kind of relaxing content you need while regretting all of your mistakes from the night before. Plus, if you’re like me, delicious food IS the best cure for a hangover, and there’s plenty of that coming out of the yachts’ kitchens.
Worst hangover viewing: Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives and anything with Gordon Ramsay yelling in it. So everything with Gordon Ramsay. John Saavedra
A show that occasionally features graphic crime scene photos seems like it would break the rules of acceptable hangover programming. After all, unpleasant sights and sounds are what we’re trying to avoid here. But let’s be real here: it’s 2021 and if you’ve been consuming Western pop culture your entire life. You’re so desensitized to murder that your “true crime” obsession is something you can lead a dating profile with. That will come in handy because, if you can look past all the murder, Forensic Files is a perfect hangover show. Brilliant narrator Peter Thomas guides viewers through each 22-minute episode that features another crime (not always violent) solved through the magic of forensic science. With an episode catalogue numbering over 400, you’ll have plenty to watch if your hangover lasts forever. Alec Bojalad
After the Thin Man
There aren’t nearly enough (good) movies set around the mad dash holiday that is New Year’s Eve. Probably because, back in 1936, After the Thin Man set the bar so damn high that Hollywood has been afraid to even attempt to top it ever since. A sequel to the even more excellent 1934 murder mystery comedy The Thin Man, After the Thin Man picks up three days following the Christmas-set events of the first film. Our protagonists Nick and Nora Charles (yes, they are the namesakes for Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist)—and fox terrier Asta!—have completed their three-day train trek from New York City home to San Francisco and are barely off the tracks before they are beset with yet another murder mystery to solve.
As with the other films in this six-film, black-and-white franchise, the best part of the world is the relationship between Nick and Nora, a married couple who genuinely seem to enjoy one another’s company and spend the film drinking and having fun, all while solving the murder of Nora’s philandering brother-in-law Robert. The film also stars Jimmy Stewart in one of his early roles, making this a must-see for any classic Hollywood cinema fan for yet another reason. Kayti Burt
Happy New Year!