World News – CA – Stream or Avoid: ‘Social Distance’ on Netflix, a remotely produced anthology of how different people cope with quarantine


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Social Distance is a remotely produced anthology – created by Hilary Weisman Graham, with Jenji Kohan being one of the executive producers – where we see people trying to deal with the early days of the coronavirus crisis in fun and dramatic ways This is the latest in a wave of remotely produced shows, one that has likely peaked, as in-person production began on shows for which renewal notices have not already been canceled ( coughGLOWcough) Can Kohan and the other writers and producers take the quarantine show in a new direction?

Opening shot: a photo of a hair salon « April 2, 2020 » On a Zoom screen, a man says: « I distanced myself for months before this shit blew up »

The Gist: The first episode is about Ike (Mike Colter), who has been sober for 18 months – the Zoom reunion at the start of the episode is an AA reunion – and is locked in quarantine on his own, because his girlfriend recently broke up with him It was difficult for the owner of the barber shop; his business is closed, he lives alone and he just doesn’t know what to do with himself He insta stalks his ex and sees that she is with someone new; he calls an old friend who talks about all the good times they had when Ike was still drinking Finally he calls his sponsor Gene (Steven Weber), who tells Ike to make the most of the time Ike creates a sequel by taking Instagram photos of himself and his « bae » – his potted fern – who helps him until things fall apart

In the second episode, a family hosts a Zoom funeral for a recently deceased patriarch, where siblings Miguel (Oscar Nuñez), Reina (Daphne Rubin-Vega) and Santiago (Guillermo Diaz) disagree until what ‘Uncle’ Tony (Miguel Sandoval) is talking about In episode three, Imani (Danielle Brooks) has to watch her daughter Madison (Isabella Ferreira) on webcams as she walks around their tiny apartment alone This is the only way for her to watch her while she takes care of Earnestine (Larita Brooks), a paralyzed woman who talks through a computer; when Earnestine’s poetry teacher daughter Marion (Marsha Stephanie Blake) keeps looking for excuses not to visit, even when Earnestine’s nursing home is closed, an interesting arrangement is made

What will the shows remind you of? Just about everything that was created remotely during this pandemic: connection, crown-era love, stories of isolation, coastal elites

Our Take: Social Distance takes a somewhat different approach than the shows mentioned above Like Isolation Stories, each episode features a new set of actors telling a new story Where social distancing differs a bit, is that it shows all the tools we use to stay connected; Besides the classic Zoom screen we see users’ Mac desktops and FaceTime We see social media scrolls We even see the Wyze phone app where Imani watches her daughter via webcam It seems minor, but these mockups of screens of people help give a complete picture of how we all stay connected these days

The episodes we watched went well during the fun parts, not as well during the serious parts Like a lot of what came out of « those hard times, » the remotely produced shows that directly deal with how whose pandemic is affecting people, Social Distance seems to have a hard time making that turn, when it’s time to stop laughing and put it all into perspective Even in the episode with Danielle Brooks, our favorite of the three, had awkward moments, like when one of Marion’s students starts singing to Madison and, after an argument, Marion finds herself saying the same harsh things to her non-daughter that her mom told her It was a bit awkward, even if it included a happy ending

But what we appreciated was the sophisticated nature of humor we saw in each 16-22 minute episode. In the funeral episode, for example, there is a photo at the very end that ties everything in an arc and shows how absurd and surreal the times we live in are T

Fortunately, there isn’t much to know « remember when we did that? » references, as we’ve seen on other 40s-themed shows Yes, we know the toilet paper search sounded like years instead of months, and we laughed in gratitude when we heard these lines in other shows But it’s also refreshing not to hear those lines, and just having stories of how humans relate to each other has changed so much because of COVID Hopefully the other episodes will follow

Gap: After a relapse everyone saw on their Instagram, Ike returns to the Zoom AA reunion, and everyone welcomes him

Sleeper Star: The fern Ike puts in his Instagram posts is tough and has a lot of personality, especially when he lashes out drunk on steaks

The most pilot line: When Ike watches an old video of him talking to his ex-girlfriend, his voice sounds weirdly manic We get the tech issues involved, but it sounded like a completely different actor than Smooth Mike Colter

Our call: STREAM IT Since Social Distance is an anthology, you can choose which episodes you want to watch This is good because like most anthologies things are hit or miss But the episodes we saw were funny , avoided some clichés of the COVID era and told candid stories without getting too sickening

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting, and tech, but he’s not mistaken: he’s addicted to television His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStonecom, VanityFaircom, Fast Company and elsewhere

Netflix, social distancing, anthology series, quarantine

News from around the world – CA – Stream it or avoid it: « Social distancing » on Netflix, an anthology produced remotely on the difference of people Coping in quarantine



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