I’ve noticed that some television shows have been incorporating the Covid-19 pandemic into their recent episodes. (There are some spoilers here, so read with caution!) A medical series, “The Good Doctor,” featured it in two episodes and then, magically, the pandemic was over. The popular series “This is Us” is trying to set a good example by making sure that the characters wear masks when meeting up with people outside of their households — until they actually walk up to each other to talk. Then the masks come off. I’ve heard that acting on TV is about facial expressions, so it makes sense that the producers don’t want faces hidden. The pandemic is sort of the background but doesn’t overwhelm the storyline.
Another series, “A Million Little Things,” seems painfully accurate. A restaurant owner sees her business crumble as staff call off sick and customers stay home. Another character is about to shoot his first movie and production stops, ending, or at least postponing, his life’s dream. Borders shut down keeping some characters from traveling home. The characters are confused about what is going on and how long it will last, just like we were a year ago. This is all too real.
Watching the events that have happened over the past year be incorporated into entertainment is inevitable, but maybe it is too soon. People continue to suffer, and lives have been turned upside down. While there is a bit of light at the end of the tunnel as vaccines become more available, that tunnel is long. We don’t know yet how this turns out, so it’s painful to watch when all you want is to be entertained.
On the other hand, dystopian fiction featuring plagues of some sort has been around for decades, maybe longer. It’s fun to read books or watch movies where the world has gone mad while safely sitting in a comfy chair. It feels quite different when events around you resemble the story.