Watching TV lets me escape reality and delve into a new world for a little while. I have never really felt that the TV shows I watched were very similar to my life. However, this year that changed. Many shows decided to incorporate the COVID-19 pandemic into their new seasons. To me, it feels strange and almost surreal to see the pandemic be played out on fictional television shows.
A show that I think did a great job of incorporating pieces of the pandemic into their new season is Shameless. In Shameless, the characters acknowledge that restaurants and bars have been shut down for a while and that they have to wear masks when leaving their houses. The reason I think Shameless did a good job is that, unlike some other shows, they did not make the pandemic the central theme of the season, but something in the background, acknowledging that the pandemic is going on and affecting people’s lives.
Another show that is incorporating the pandemic into their new season is Grey’s Anatomy. Grey’s Anatomy explores the hectic nature of the hospitals, the difficulties associated with getting protective equipment, and the seriousness of COVID-19 on people’s health. Although I think that Grey’s Anatomy was trying to praise doctors and nurses for the hard work during the pandemic, I think the season hits too close to home. I have had a hard time watching Grey’s Anatomy play out this season because watching it brings back the immense fear I feel about a family member getting COVID-19 and being in critical condition. Throughout the pandemic, I have watched shows to take my mind off what has been going on, but watching Greys’ Anatomy forces me to stay in reality.
This is Us also incorporated the COVID-19 pandemic into their new season. This is Us displays characters wearing masks and social distancing. I think that, like Shameless, This is Us addressed the pandemic but didn’t make the entire season revolve around it. By doing this, This is Us is promoting safety measures but not causing people to feel the pain and fear that they do from living through the pandemic. In addition to addressing the pandemic this season, This is Us also addressed the protests and resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement that has been going on since George Floyd’s murder. I believe it is important for media to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement and the inherent racism and inequality occurring in our country.
Lastly, One Chicago – Chicago P.D, Chicago Med, and Chicago Fire – all also incorporated the pandemic into their new seasons respectively. Chicago P.D and Chicago Fire put less focus on the pandemic than Chicago Med, but still displayed characters wearing masks to help encourage mask-wearing. Like Shameless and This is Us, the pandemic is not a main topic in the seasons but something in the background to promote following safety standards. Chicago Med puts more focus on the pandemic by displaying characters working in the COVID ward with COVID patients. But unlike Grey’s Anatomy, it does not feel like the pandemic is overwhelming the show and it is possible to watch the show without having to focus so much on the pandemic.
Overall, I think it was an interesting choice for shows to include the pandemic in their new seasons. I know that it was hard for writers to create new seasons and not address the pandemic when it is the only thing on people’s minds for the last year. Although I like watching TV to escape reality, it is interesting to see bits and pieces of my life play out with fictional characters in fictional shows.
Feature Image Credit: Vulture