TV and the Pandemic

Broadcast network TV has returned. There has been a mix in the way shows have dealt with the pandemic. Some shows(Seal Team, several sitcoms) have decided to completely ignore the pandemic. Some shows(Prodigal Son, Blue Bloods, Magnum) have acknowledged that the pandemic happened but the action takes place post-pandemic. Last Man Standing started the first episode mid-pandemic and then flashed forward a couple of years. I prefer these two types of shows. I agree with the Seal Team show runner who said people want to watch TV to forget the troubles of the real world. I don’t want TV to remind me how bad thing are in the real world. The other reason I prefer this approach is that many of the “pandemic” shows are doing such a bad job with depicting the pandemic they might as well have just ignored it completely.

Grey’s Anatomy has probably done the best of the shows I watch. Most of the show takes place in the hospital so people are wearing masks regularly. The companion show, Station 19 is not so good. It’s the same universe, but the characters rarely wear masks. They take their masks off to talk to people in public. They only wear masks completely when on a call.

We watched the first episode of FBI. No one was wearing a mask in the crowded office or on the crime scene. Right when I said they must not be doing the pandemic, the main characters put on masks to question a witness.

Some shows seem to go back and forth with it. SWAT mentioned it multiple times early, but in the last episode only a couple of people here and there wore masks. I couldn’t tell if it is supposed to be early in the pandemic before masks were normal or if it is post pandemic and some people are still more comfortable wearing masks. Chicago Fire also seems to have gone away from any mention of the pandemic or masks.

911 Lone Star is allegedly in the pandemic, but the entire fire department and EMT crew go maskless around each other at work, have maskless social gatherings, and then go home to their families. Rob Lowe’s character has cancer and they are more concerned about him breathing in ash than catching Covid. There was a large party in the last episode with one or two people in masks while the rest were maskless and a family played mini golf with no masks.

The Connors is one sitcom I watch that takes place in the pandemic. Everyone constantly has their mask on their chin if they are wearing one. They have masks on at work but take them off in the break room with coworkers.

Superstore does a better job with pandemic stories, but still have people without masks on around each other more than would possibly happen in real life.

I’m not one of those people who claims to get stressed out when I see fictional people on TV not wearing a mask(especially during old shows. That’s weird) I get that networks probably want us to see the faces of the actors who are making a lot of money. I just think there are only two real choices;

  1. If you insist on being topical and having the pandemic as part of your show, be realistic. Don’t just have a token mask here and there. Show what it is really like. People distancing and wearing masks. People actually worried about getting sick.
  2. If you can’t deal with your cast in masks or with doing realistic storylines, just don’t do it. Pretend you are an alternate universe where it never happened or go the Magnum route, acknowledge it happened, but you are in the future after it is over.

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3 thoughts on “TV and the Pandemic

  1. I agree. They should either be realistic and consistent if they’re pretending to be in the pandemic, real time or put the time after it’s over or in fantasyland.

    Liked by 1 person

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