In my common job writing about Sci-Fi and Fantasy for RadioTimes.com, I’m used to transporting myself to different universes via the medium of tv – however over the previous couple of months, I’ve been struck by the variations to my very own life I’m seeing on display screen.
On daily basis I’m witnessing unusual worlds, removed from what we all know – societies with unusual alien rituals, pastimes and experiences that might not be extra overseas to the world as I do know it. And that’s simply Line of Obligation.
“Why are you standing so shut collectively??” I discover myself hollering at the TV.
“Wash your palms, Steve Arnott!”
Sure, watching TV in the time of corona is a wierd expertise. For each shoestring at-home lockdown manufacturing which might’t assist however remind you of the dire straits we’re in, there’s a lush pre-filmed drama, or cleaning soap, crammed with folks performing on a regular basis actions that are actually about as distant to us as all our pals and prolonged family members.
Seeing characters go to eating places, meet new folks, share meals, maintain palms, go to work – it’s typically exhausting to immerse your self in the story with out being reminded of what we’re all presently residing with out. Which is maybe why, greater than ever, I’m discovering extra consolation in TV that isn’t alleged to replicate actual life.
Once I tune into The Mandalorian, it doesn’t appear unusual that Pedro Pascal’s bounty hunter isn’t sustaining a strict two-metre distance from his targets – except for the proven fact that he’s totally encased in Beskar metal PPE, my mind accepts that there’s no coronavirus in a galaxy far, far-off.
As a result of we don’t have simple interstellar journey, lightsabers, telekinetic powers or (sadly) Child Yodas in our universe both, I’m used to suspending my disbelief for a Star Wars story. And it’s the similar for a present like Recreation of Thrones (as disagreeable as Westeros appears to be to dwell in, a minimum of you will get shut sufficient to someone to disembowel them) the place the guidelines and setting are already so totally different from our world that it’s simpler to lose your self in the motion.
Interval dramas work too – it’s not exhausting to get sucked into one thing like The Final Kingdom or Belgravia, each of which once more are supposed to be in a special society – at the same time as ostensibly present-day tales start to resemble a previous we’ve left behind.
Going ahead, TV dramas face a troublesome problem past that posed by attempting to restart manufacturing. In new tales, how can we handle what we’ve all been residing via? Can we fake that nothing ever occurred and society continued as regular, or is there a necessity to handle it? To return to Line of Obligation, will AC-12’s investigations proceed as regular – or will we additionally learn how properly Ted Hastings received on together with his Zoom pub quizzes over the previous few months? Will lockdown have “occurred”?
Clearly everybody desires escapism, and it’d be tedious to have 1,000,000 lockdown-themed dramas arriving – however for higher or for worse, the coronavirus pandemic has affected each residing individual in the world, billions abruptly. It shouldn’t must dominate the whole lot ceaselessly – it’s arguably canonical in each kitchen-sink drama that World Conflict II occurred, but it surely doesn’t come up loads in The A Phrase – however in the close to future, it’d be unusual to fake nothing had modified in any respect.
Proof now means that to some extent, we may very well be residing in a modified world for years to return, a “new regular” the place we’re nonetheless pressured to maintain our distance in a method or another. Except they really are residing in a parallel universe, how may TV characters ignore it?
The reply is a difficult one, and I’m intrigued to see how dramatists deal with it. Already, Coronation Road producers have promised the coronavirus pandemic can be mirrored in storylines when filming returns. Maybe others will observe their lead, or go a special manner and create a world the place COVID-19 simply isn’t a significant concern, in the hope that quickly sufficient that’ll be our actuality too.
Personally, I nonetheless discover it best to retreat to TV worlds the place physics, biology and science are already so totally different it’s not a wrench. Anybody for a hand of Sabacc?
The Mandalorian is streaming on Disney+