What To Watch On Netflix On Your Next Sick Day

12 movies and shows that are like chicken soup for your subconscious.

September 21, 2015

It's getting to be that time of year, when temperatures outside start dipping and your internal thermostat skyrockets. So you call out of school or work or whatever, steep some echinacea tea, and prep for a day of healing and movie-watching. But when the whole breadth of of Netflix is at your clammy fingertips, it can be overwhelming, especially when you're not feeling like yourself. To help remedy your choice paralysis, we've put together a few dreamy and deranged recommendations for what to stream while you're stuck in bed, clutching a tissue box. Feel better, we love you!


A 1960s Jane Fonda stars as a skimpily-dressed futuristic space babe who is asked by the President of Earth to stop Dr. Durand Durand (fun fact: Duran Duran's namesake) from using his Positronic Ray to, like, destroy the universe or something. Barbarella gets into all kinds of sticky situations, including one where she is attacked by dolls with razor teeth. Also, it was directed by the uber-French Roger Vadim, so there's a ton of sexual innuendo. Worth skipping class for. Watch.

Pantani: The Accidental Death of a Cyclist

Marco Pantani was a little bandana-wearing Italian and one of the 1990s' most captivating professional cyclists. Then, in 1999, like hundreds of riders of his era, he was disgraced as a doper, though he denied using up until his self-inflected death in 2004. This documentary puts the self-inflected part into some question, but that's hardly the point of watching it—either way, his is a relatable tragedy worth a hundred films. Watch.

Bill Cunningham New York

Bill Cunningham is a G.O.A.T. 86 year old. This documentary follows the fashion photography legend from his humble beginnings to his still-humble/unbelievable present, providing some laughs and cries that might just clear your sinuses. Watch.


Twenty years after Hackers hit theaters, everything looks a lot like cybernetic rave the film portrays. Okay, not everything. But we spend a lot of time in front of screens doing halfway illegal things don't we? The biggest payoff for running this '95 action flick back might be the style: Angelina Jolie in Quicksilver mocknecks and hockey jerseys, Johnny Lee Miller rollerblading in paramilitary outerwear, Laurence Mason foreshadowing Yeezy season 2. It's full of quotables and dizzying visual affects that have aged as well as the soundtrack of pulsing English house music from The Prodigy and Orbital. HACK THE PLANET. Watch.

Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy

When we heard the very sad news that Wes Craven passed away last month, we started to scour Netflix for the groundbreaking filmmaker's work. There are a few on there—including the still-perfect original Nightmare on Elm Street and the underrated, pre-Scream 4th-wall-breaking entry New Nightmare. But we also landed on this 4-hour, almost too comprehensive doc about the entire franchise, which includes on-camera interviews with the late-great horror master himself. No refunds if your fever dreams turn gruesome. Watch.

The Producers

We only remembered there was a 2005 remake of this film after watching the original—such a prospect seems as far-fetched as the absurdist WW2-themed play our two protagonists dream up as a surefire box office flop in an elaborate scheme to get rich quick. The Producers is so rich because of the ways it pokes fun at the frictions of its time: Broadway tycoons of old brushing up against hippie Hitler and go-go dancer youths. It's crude and classic, like the common cold. Watch.

30 For 30: The Price Of Gold

If there's anything that can make you feel human again, its this documentary about professional ice skater Tonya Harding and the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan in the run-up to the 1994 Olympic Winter Games. This short doc will make you shed a tear for one of sports' most notorious figures. Watch.

Paid In Full

Paid In Full tells the true tale of a legendary Harlem hustler named Richard "Rich” Porter, who, at his peak, was selling something like $50,000 worth of crack a week. The 2002 Roc-A-Fella-produced film became an instant hip-hop classic, and for good reason. Come for a gripping emotional drama, stay for Dame Dash’s leather bucket hat. Watch.

3 Women

If you’re delirious with fever (like Liz was last week), we highly recommend 3 Women, Robert Altman’s dreamy, disturbing take on female friendship and the malleability of identity. Set in a dusty California town, the plot is diffuse and stringy enough that you can follow it without even really paying attention. Shelly Duvall and Sissy Spacek are so startlingly beautiful, and their style so on point, watching them flit about the frame feels like chicken soup for your subconscious. Watch.

The Dead Zone

The Dead Zone is everything you could want in a sick-day movie. It’s thrilling but not stressful, entertaining without overwhelming, serving up so much prime Christopher Walken with cheese on the side. This David Cronenberg-directed gem is iconic for a reason; watching it now is like finally hearing the punchline to a joke you remember from your childhood: “Ohhhhhh.” Watch.


In 1987, Pablo Escobar, cocaine kingpin of Colombia's Medellín cartel, made Forbes' first-ever Billionaires List. In the world of Narcos, a genius businessman stacks up against the world's richest by getting away with some truly crazy shit. The first season plays like a cinematic documentary—a fact-based account of a major drug economy, war, and political turmoil all wrapped up in a thrilling drama series you can't not binge watch. Watch.

The X-Files

This summer we got back into The X-Files in a big way. It's a commitment—there are nine seasons, each with over 20 episodes a pop, except the final run which "only" has 19—but a therapeutic one. We recommend Episode 17 from Season 1, first broadcast in 1993, partly because it's a deftly handled extraterrestrial goose-chase, but mainly for this gem of a line from a government informant: "A lie, Mr. Mulder, is most convincing hidden between two truths." Watch.

What To Watch On Netflix On Your Next Sick Day