We should keep TV as coronavirus-free as possible

Shows such as 'American Idol' have had to adapt to virtual platforms due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. (Photo via YouTube)

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, I’ve struggled to watch anything without thinking, “Wow, this was made in the good ol’ days when we were actually allowed to go outside and hug people.” While I admit this is a pessimistic outlook, I have unfortunately found it difficult to escape coronavirus fears and negativity, even in my favorite shows.

Many of us use television, movies, music and other creative outlets to escape and pass the time. There’s something so satisfying about losing yourself within a fictional world. Our favorite shows are some of the only places that are mostly coronavirus-free, with the exception of advertisements that share how a random company like Taco Bell is taking new precautions.

The pandemic has taken away lives and livelihoods, but we have made important sacrifices to keep the people and things we love safe. Please, coronavirus, spare what good is left. Don’t ruin entertainment, too! It’s the one thing that is keeping many of us sane while staying indoors.

But that plea might be too late. While COVID-19 has already halted sports programming for the most part, many other live programs have been adjusting to this first wave of disruptions. Late night series such as The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen transitioned to online video conferencing back in March. At first, this was fun to watch since it felt more personal to sit with hosts in their own homes. Now that the novelty has worn off, the spotty connections, awkward lags and disruptive pauses aren’t as funny.

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Competition shows such as American Idol and The Voice were forced to work fast and broadcast remotely for the remainder of their seasons, too. Anxiety over whether contestants will be able to stay connected throughout a song has replaced the “sing for your life” vigor these shows are known for.

Of course, fans have cut major slack to producers who are working under new, rushed circumstances. Live shows need to carry on during this pandemic, but their struggles should come as an indication that society should “keep TV corona-free” as much as possible. There are anxieties everywhere — we don’t need to focus on them on our screens as well.

Many people have been staying inside, so we don’t need to watch celebrities or actors do the same. Keeping Up With the Kardashians stopped production, so the cast members are now recording themselves in their own homes. While Kim Kardashian’s quarantine is probably more fun than the average person’s, the extravagance that made the series so addicting is gone. We’ve all essentially been following the same bed-couch-kitchen cycle. Granted, she’s definitely sitting on a nicer couch than most of us.

However, reality television is seemingly more conducive to quarantine. The pandemic’s effects on other series still remain in question.

The Ghost Adventures: Quarantine miniseries will investigate how the pandemic is affecting the supernatural world, which supposedly gains power from anxiety and fear. The team will stay six feet apart while filming inside a haunted museum without a crew. These parameters could actually make the program more successful.

Unlike the Ghost Adventures concept, the CBS drama All Rise aired a virtual episode this week that heavily relied on video calls. There is little appeal in watching actors video call each other on our televisions, especially after spending all day talking to coworkers and loved ones online. This “screen within a screen” concept will also make it hard to make programs feel new and different.

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Of course, the pandemic has halted filming for many series too, forcing some shows such as Love Island to delay new seasons. While I am not excited for widespread use of video conferencing on TV, I may be begging for new content in the coming months — or maybe even years — if production is stopped entirely.  

Nevertheless, relatable stories are always important, and COVID-19 TV could provide the perfect opportunity for commiseration. Entertainment reflects the world that it’s created in. Directors and writers frequently find inspiration in their realities, but being stuck inside may make it difficult to write original work.

For the sake of viewers, most of us can do without an influx of new quarantine-related episodes for now. We need our escapes and stress relief more than ever. And, a final note to producers — airing pandemic episodes in the coming year may be “too soon.” I doubt that many of us will want to be reminded of this time of death and financial hardship later. Since virtually nothing has been shielded from the coronavirus, we may be forced to adjust to a new normal in Hollywood, too.

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