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Pandemic-centric productions set to swamp our screens

As countries around the world still grapple with coronavirus, TV and movie producers have wasted no time creating new content centred around the pandemic. Whether this can be considered escapist is dubious, so will a craving for communal catharsis see audiences engage?

Streaming services have been quick off the blocks and already released an array of small screen features. Available via Freeform and Hulu, “Love in the time of Corona” is a recently released limited series about couples who are navigating the pandemic. While on HBC, “Coastal Elites” is a socially-distanced satire, where stars including Bette Midler act out monologues. Spanning topics beyond coronavirus, including American politics and the Black Lives Matter protests, some critics have provided harsh critique – “is this the worst film of the year?”. Finally, there’s no doubting the subject matter of Netflix series, “Social Distance”, which will cover the start of the pandemic as it progresses throughout the world. Premiering mid-October, the eight-part show features both dark and funny takes on how people strive to stay connected while staying apart.

Bette Midler in Coastal Elites. Photograph: HBO

Pandemic-inspired projects are being produced beyond the United States. Filmmaker Michael Winterbottom is set to cowrite and direct a coronavirus-themed series about British prime minister Boris Johnson’s response to the outbreak. While "Heroes in Harm's Way" premiered on China's flagship TV channel, CCTV-1, on 17 September. Promising to showcase front-line workers in Wuhan, the show has come under fierce criticism for minimising the role of women during China’s fight against the virus. And while refreshingly coronavirus-free, it’s hard to see how documentary series, “Tiger King”, would have been met with such fascination if the world wasn’t in the grip of a pandemic. Fans will be delighted to know that that an upcoming film adaption is being set in our very own Queensland.

Leslie Odom Jr. in “Love in the Time of Corona”. Credit: Freeform

Facing an audience already weary from the relentless COVID-19 news cycle, it remains to be seen if viewers will hit play on the plethora of pandemic content soon to hit. Nonetheless, with publishers snapping up corona books, playwrights joining forces to explore a world transformed by the virus and dozens of songs related to life in quarantine, if you are in the mood for some much needed catharsis, there is no shortage of options. Pick your poison.

Molly Bruce


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