From 'Grey's Anatomy' to 'Brooklyn 99,' coronavirus infects TV plots
- American TV shows are looking for ways to incorporate the Pandemic
- Have a responsibility to show what health care workers have been going through, said Grey's anatomy star
- Series like 'The Good Doctor' have already tackled the virus
The coronavirus pandemic has caused an upheaval in all our lives, not even sparing the TV shows. While some shows have refused to acknowledge the pandemic altogether, some have woven it into the storylines of their latest episodes, reports news agency AFP. From medical dramas to famous sitcoms, several shows have incorporated the pandemic into their plots.
In the opening scenes of the latest season of long-running hospital drama "Grey's Anatomy," Meredith Grey is seen enjoying alone time on a beach.
She suddenly emerges from the dream, exhausted, wanting it to last a little longer, in full PPE, in a frantic emergency room.
In a recent interview with Deadline, the series star, Ellen Pompeo said, "I think we have a responsibility to really show what these health care workers have been going through."
At a time when many Americans are "irritated with wearing a mask" and their mental health having taken a toll on their well being due to WFH and draining online classes and the latest season of "Grey's Anatomy" offers "an opportunity to tell the story of how hard this is for our health care workers," Ellen said.
Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider, showrunners for NBC's "Chicago Med," told AFP that "as a hospital show, we knew we'd have to deal with the pandemic."
"So far it plays if not a direct then a tangential role in every one of the new episodes," said Frolov and Schneider about the show's sixth season, which premiered on November 11."Even if we're not doing Covid patient stories, the virus has profoundly changed protocols and procedures in the hospital.
Other medical shows like ABC's "The Good Doctor" have already tackled the virus, while 'New Amsterdam' and 'The Resident' are ready to follow suit in 2021.
Outside of hospital settings, US network shows have also incorporated elements of the pandemic's impact. NBC's hit drama "This is Us" has members of the Pearson family sheltering at home, and matriarch Rebecca having to postpone an Alzheimer's clinical trial, because of coronavirus.
Andre Braugher who plays Captain Raymond Holt in the NBC series, Brooklyn 99 said, "It could be a really groundbreaking season that we're all going to be very, very proud of, or we're going to fall flat on our face." The show is mulling how to incorporate COVID-19 Into Season 8.
ABC's "The Conners" put its own spin on the issue, addressing the pandemic through the financial hardships it has created for the sitcom's characters. "For a family that is always struggling economically and lives mostly without a safety net, the economic impact of this was something we felt we had to write about," said Dave Caplan, writer and executive producer of the show spun off from "Roseanne".
Initially trying to get her career as a writer off the ground, Darlene Conner is forced to get a job at a local factory, working alongside her sister Becky who is also struggling financially.Their father is on the verge of being evicted. "We don't shy away from going to a very serious place for some of the subjects, which allows us to also exploit that tension with humor," explains writer and co-producer Bruce Helford.
"We've always found that the biggest laughs come when the audience is a bit uncomfortable and then they're allowed to just laugh at it." "Finding the comedy and the humor is actually easier because these are brand new circumstances that haven't been dealt with before," which is very rare, according to Helford.
"The Conners" also made a conscious effort to portray the nation's stark political divisions over the pandemic and its handling. Darlene's son Mark is confronted at school by a boy whose family opposes Covid restrictions. "We touched on it because you can't ignore it," said Helford. "And we tried to do it evenhandedly.
"In addition to existing shows, streaming platforms and cable channels have tried putting together new series centered on coronavirus, like HBO's "Coastal Elites" or Netflix's "Social Distance" -- but with no real success. At the other end of the scale, many shows have offered a dose of escapism by completely leaving out Covid, sometimes because they were shot before the pandemic hit -- such as recent Netflix hit "Emily in Paris" or CBS's "Mom" .
Last spring, writers on "The Neighborhood," a CBS comedy which revolves around a white family moving into a Black neighborhood, were pondering whether to address the pandemic in season three, recalled actor Cedric the Entertainer in an interview with TV Line.