The only thing we don’t need in these unprecedented times, are stories about these unprecedented times…
Recently I was scrolling through Netflix, trying to decide on whether I wanted to watch an episode of Friends for the 600th time, or do something really out of character and choose something new to watch. I stumbled upon one of the streaming platform’s newest releases; an anthology series Social Distance. As you can probably guess from the title, this series follows a group of different people, in various locations across America dealing with the pandemic. And while the unstoppable virus, and political unrest controlling the current state of the world might feel like an excerpt out of a dystopian young adult novel from 2012, I certainly don’t want to watch a dramatized version of my current reality on a Netflix original series. At least not right now, the next few years, or maybe ever.
One of the reasons I have been binge watching series, and movies on streaming services pretty much 24/7 since March is because it’s a form of escapism, and I can do it all without leaving my bed. It is so nice to put down my phone for an hour or two and get lost in a make-believe world where the prince falls in love with a common girl, and they live happily ever after. I can’t think of anything I would rather watch less right now than watching a young girl attend her grandfather’s funeral virtually. I don’t want to consume anything for fun that reminds me of the dumpster fire we’re all still trying to make sense of. What I really want is mystery I can solve in an hour. I want something that’s going to make me laugh so hard I forget that I can’t hug my family. I want to get so consumed by a rom com set somewhere on the Amalfi Coast, that I forget about the resurgence of acne on the lower half of my face. Because that’s where I want to be; falling in love on the Amalfi Coast. Not second guessing everything I’m touching, constantly thinking about strangers breathing around me.
What’s even worse is that we can’t even go to the movies right now to watch new releases (especially with new restrictions being put in place due to the surge in new daily cases). We have to watch these movies about coping with life through a global pandemic, while currently coping through a global pandemic. And while the things we are doing to keep ourselves, and each other safe aren’t a big sacrifice, we are still grieving with the loss of the lives as we knew them. It’s hard to not be disappointed thinking about the things we were supposed to be doing, and the places we were supposed to be going. Luckily, movies and books give us the escape we need to forget about the weight of the world for just a little bit. In the last month or so we’ve seen actors return to shoot the next season of our favourite shows or start work on a new and exciting film (by all means give me new material to get lost in), we can’t dismiss that this is also a little hard to watch. Thus, the moral dilemma of anything new that is currently being produced.
There are major pros and cons when I think of casts and crews returning back to work in Hollywood. First, I’m so happy that people who are passionate, and love their jobs get to go back to work. Especially those who didn’t have the financial security of an a-list celebrity through the bulk of lockdown. On the other hand, most sets notoriously have a lot people working on them daily. It takes a literal village, and while there is no doubt in my mind that major productions are taking every health and safety precaution seriously right now, it also makes me think about the perhaps unfair priority these productions are given over other people in need. For example, Chase Stokes, who plays the lead on Netflix’s Outer Banks has been documenting the cast’s return to filming the show’s second season since late summer. OBX was one of my favourite new series I watched during lockdown, and I am so excited for a second season, but Chase also mentioned how he and his cast mates get COVID-19 tests done multiple times a week on set to ensure they aren’t spreading the virus. Meanwhile, many other states are experiencing shortages on tests, and longer wait times for results. It’s a double-edged sword. I, as well as many of you, am excited for new content, but is it coming at the cost of regular people like us not being able to access healthcare during these uncertain, and let’s face it, truly scary times?
So no, I certainly don’t want a movie, or a tv show about the pandemic. While we’re at it, I don’t know if I’m cool with anything being filmed right now (I am obviously the authority figure of Hollywood productions). Can you all just go home and wash your hands so I can go fall in love with a stranger on the Amalfi Coast? Or at the very least so we can all go watch a rom com in a movie theatre again?