COVID-19

Ready or not, Hollywood starts telling coronavirus stories

Jasmine Garsd May 8, 2020
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Hollywood producers are developing shows that involve the coronavirus pandemic. Some wonder how to strike the right tone. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
COVID-19

Ready or not, Hollywood starts telling coronavirus stories

Jasmine Garsd May 8, 2020
Heard on:
Hollywood producers are developing shows that involve the coronavirus pandemic. Some wonder how to strike the right tone. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
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A virus that is not fully understood. A global pandemic. Countries shutting down.

A few months ago, this would have sounded like a not-so-creative Hollywood movie. But now, it’s real life. Several major production houses have announced COVID-19 themed shows — about love, loss and social distancing. 

But does anyone want to watch that?

Netflix has just signed on for a series called “Social Distancing” produced by Jenji Kohan, creator of “Orange Is the New Black.” And Disney’s cable channel Freeform plans to produce a romantic comedy called “Love in the Time of Corona,” filmed using remote technology.  

But Hollywood is divided, according to Peter White, television editor at Deadline Hollywood magazine. He said creators are unsure that audiences will show up to watch what they’re already living through. 

“People are trying to work out whether they are going to want to lean into this or whether they are going to try and avoid it,” White said. “Tone is the thing that a lot of people are talking about.”

Tone, meaning do you make a comedy about a pandemic? 

This is not the first time Hollywood has had to figure out how to keep Americans entertained through rough times. During the Great Depression, films showcased Shirley Temple, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers tap-dancing into American hearts.

But Emily Carman, associate professor of film at Chapman University, said that in those hard times, Americans also wanted to see films about underdogs, working-class heroes and gangsters. 

“There was an allure with those kind of outlaw-rebel figures,” Carman said.

Like, the original “Scarface” — it was graphic and controversial, but people loved it. Now, Hollywood is forced to innovate again. The few productions moving forward will be inventing a genre with some pretty experimental, untested technology. 

And, we will see how it goes. 

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

Can businesses deny you entry if you don’t have a vaccine passport?

As more Americans get vaccinated against COVID-19 and the economy begins reopening, some businesses are requiring proof of vaccination to enter their premises. The concept of a vaccine passport has raised ethical questions about data privacy and potential discrimination against the unvaccinated. However, legal experts say businesses have the right to deny entrance to those who can’t show proof.

Give me a snapshot of the labor market in the U.S.

U.S. job openings in February increased more than expected, according to the Labor Department. Also, the economy added over 900,000 jobs in March. For all of the good jobs news recently, there are still nearly 10 million people who are out of work, and more than 4 million of them have been unemployed for six months or longer. “So we still have a very long way to go until we get a full recovery,” said Elise Gould with the Economic Policy Institute. She said the industries that have the furthest to go are the ones you’d expect: “leisure and hospitality, accommodations, food services, restaurants” and the public sector, especially in education.

What do I need to know about tax season this year?

Glad you asked! We have a whole separate FAQ section on that. Some quick hits: The deadline has been extended from April 15 to May 17 for individuals. Also, millions of people received unemployment benefits in 2020 — up to $10,200 of which will now be tax-free for those with an adjusted gross income of less than $150,000. And, for those who filed before the American Rescue Plan passed, simply put, you do not need to file an amended return at the moment. Find answers to the rest of your questions here.

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