The COVID-19 crisis is all anyone can talk about, but does it make for good television? That’s the question TV writers all over Hollywood and beyond are pondering as they face the prospect of filming new episodes amid the pandemic.
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Some writers and producers are fired up to reflect our current reality, but others would prefer to keep TV an escapist medium. The Hollywood Reporter recently polled several scribes, and their responses covered the gamut of opinions. Scroll down to see whether a dozen shows will or will not incorporate COVID-19 storylines.
All Rise: Already Did
The freshman CBS legal drama returned with a new episode on May 4, with Judge Lola Carmichael (Simone Missick) presiding over a virtual bench trial amid Los Angeles’ shelter-in-place order. The show has been renewed.
Executive producer John Wells tells The Hollywood Reporter that he’s rewriting the Showtime comedy’s final season to not only include the pandemic but to make it so multiple members of the Gallagher family are infected. “It’s impossible to do a satirical comedy about the working poor without addressing what happened and what is going to happen to that community,” he adds.
Kenya Barris, creator of the Freeform comedy, informs THR he’s sure the pandemic will be written into the plot—and he predicts the show’s writers will reread their scripts and realize, “This doesn’t match the world we’re in anymore.”
Greg Berlanti, who co-created the Netflix thriller, says, “You’re in a pact with your audience where you have to deal with real-life s**t. And yes, there’s always an escapist element to entertainment, but at the same time the key to these kinds of shows is to find our own narrative way to deal with what the world is dealing with and for the audience to find some sense of connection in that.”
CBS All Access
The Good Fight: Yes
Robert and Michelle King, two of the CBS All Access legal drama’s creators, tell the mag that they’ll address at least the economic impact of the coronavirus.
9-1-1 & 9-1-1: Lone Star: Yes
Tim Minear, a co-creator of the Fox procedurals, says, “If we pretend like it’s an alter-universe where this thing hasn’t happened, we’d quaint ourselves into irrelevance.”
Curb Your Enthusiasm: Probably
Showrunner Jeff Schaffer says he and Larry David, star of the HBO comedy, are spitballing ideas based on the pandemic: “There’s still plenty of aberrant behavior to look back on, like who said they were social distancing but clearly got a haircut every few weeks?”
Single Parents: Maybe
The ABC sitcom’s co-creator J.J. Philbin tells THR that she once thought “it would be jarring to depict a universe where people are in face masks and Playtex gloves standing 6 feet apart from each other,” but “now it almost feels disingenuous not to.”
American Horror Story & American Crime Story: No
Producer Ryan Murphy insists to the mag that the FX anthologies won’t focus on the pandemic, explaining, “I’m personally more interested in things that are about hope, beauty, and romance—the opposite of the darkness that we’re going through.”
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The Upshaws: No
The upcoming Netflix family comedy is pursuing its pre-pandemic ideas. “If they’re concerned about a relationship as a deadly virus is going on, it looks kind of petty,” writer and star Wanda Sykes tells THR.