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Ill Behaviour is a British comedy that originally aired in three hourlong installments, and is now coming stateside to air as six half-hour episodes on Showtime. The show is an absurdist observational piece about cancer, kidnapping, attempted murder, and sexual assault. That may sound absolutely insane, but it is actually a brilliant show.

The main character of Ill Behaviour is Joel (Chris Geere, You’re The Worst), a man struggling with his identity after recently getting divorced after a decade-long loveless marriage with a hedge fund manager. His best friend Charlie (Tom Riley, Da Vinci’s Demons) is much more composed and is living a blissful family life. But everything changes when Charlie is diagnosed with stage one Hodgkin’s lymphoma — a very treatable form of cancer — and he decides to skip chemotherapy but to keep obliviously living his life with alternative treatment in the form of coffee enemas.

Joel is outraged that Charlie is signing his own death warrant, and does the sensible thing: He abducts Charlie to the basement of a rented countryside manor, and administers illegally obtained chemotherapy drugs to him for three months. To help him with his plan, Joel enlists his and Charlie’s longtime mutual friend Tess (Jessica Regan, Doctors), a frustrated IT worker who moonlights as a ‘robot porn’ writer, and oncologist Nadia (Lizzy Caplan, Masters Of Sex), who is also a sex-addicted alcoholic with substance abuse issues.

Everything about Ill Behaviour is completely nuts, but the weird thing is that although every single character on this show is certifiably crazy, most of them are still quite relatable. Few people would actually carry it out, but I imagine that many people would (briefly) consider forcing their best friend to take the drugs that would prevent them from dying.

The actions of Joel, Tess and Nadia are deeply immoral, but they start out with the best intentions, and they see every awful thing they have to do to save Charlie’s life — tying him to a chair for three months, sending fake emails to his wife, sexually assaulting him, shooting at him with a crossbow — as a necessary evil to be overcome in their quest to do good.

Over the course of the miniseries, Joel is drastically spiraling out of control, and that is immensely interesting to watch. He goes from a lovable loser who wants the best for his friend to a diabolical maniac who cannot accept that life goes on and who winds up literally holding down the fort to the bitter end. Ultimately a character piece, Ill Behaviour takes a little while to get to full steam, but six half-hours really is not that much of an investment. Even if you’re not into cancer shows, you should definitely check this one out.

Ill Behaviour airs on Mondays at 10:30/9:30c on Showtime.

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