When I heard the concepts for the show Love in the Time of Corona and film Coastal Elites, I thought I was in for heartwarmingly interconnected stories in the vein of Love Actually. With Love in the Time of Corona, that's exactly what I was getting! With Coastal Elites, it was something else entirely. Yet with both the show and the film, all I could focus on was the backdrop of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Instead of rooting for Love in the Time of Corona's Oscar (Tommy Dorfman) and Elle's (Rainey Qualley) respective romances, I was thinking about how unlucky in love my quarantine swiping had been. Rather than relating to (or laughing along at the satirical take of) Coastal Elites's Mark (Daniel Levy) or Clarissa (Sarah Paulson), it made me feel like I was being pandered to in a way I hadn't asked for. It all felt simply too soon for networks and streaming services to start churning out pandemic-centric media.
For medical dramas like Grey's Anatomy and The Good Doctor, it wouldn't be realistic for them to ignore what's happening in the real world. Even for shows like This Is Us, which according to Deadline has decided to "attack things head on," a mention of COVID-19 is necessary to put things in perspective. I'm not saying that we can't handle any COVID-19 content at all, I'm just saying that people don't need to be pandered to when it comes to the pandemic. We're living through it in real-time and tend to look to movies and TV for an escape; I'm not looking for a show or movie in which the main plot point is quarantining or sheltering in place because of COVID-19.
That isn't to say that Love in the Time of Corona was bad; if anything I enjoyed it once I was able to turn off my brain and stop saying things like, "You won't get to have that party because you'll still be sheltering in place." There were plenty of moments where the limited series was extremely relatable, but I've also found relatable moments in shows set on different planets, so that's probably not saying much. As for Coastal Elites, it was written as monologues for the stage and should've stayed that way. What the entertainment industry as a whole needs to stop and ask itself is, "Do people actually need or want this?" Just because they can film things using webcams or iPhones, doesn't mean they should. Sure, one day we might want to look back on fictionalized versions of COVID-19 living, but seeing as we're still trying to overcome it . . . that day is a long way off.