By Stephanie Sical
Despite these challenging times, the new series on Netflix, “Social Distance,” shows a new way of making television entertaining and relevant to current times. The series is a demonstration of the problems of reacting to a crisis too hastily.
The series is produced by Jenji Kohan, the creator of “Orange Is the New Black,” from an entirely remote location, the series focuses on how Americans were forced to cope with the early effects of quarantine. Each episode tells a different story. It starts with the initial months of the pandemic, and is filmed in a webcam style and smartphone. It showcases the power of the human spirit in the face of uncertainty and isolation. However, each episode leaves viewers with an empty feeling because each episode doesn’t have a clear ending.
The narratives themselves feel rushed, and not just because of their 20-minute runtimes, but because its small details like remaining committed to the series visual style, and even hammering down the timelines in one episode a character says they’ve been in lockdown for months when it’s only early April, which unravels the anthology’s bid for realism, it also captures digital life in 2020 which helps viewers to relate and almost relive the beginning of quarantine.
Each episode tries to capture an experience of remoteness because of where we are in the world, having to depend on technology to retain a sense of connection, even as it seems that human connection might be getting destroyed by technology.
It presents a solid and mixed cast including Mike Colter, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Guillermo Diaz, Danielle Brooks, Dylan Baker, Asante Blackk and others.
“Social Distance” begins as the coronavirus shutdowns take effect, with a barber attending virtual Alcoholics Anonymous meetings titled “Delete All Future Events.” It deals with self-control, an aspect that many have struggled with during the lockdown. A professional hairstylist, fights to remain afloat during a period when he loses his job and goes through a breakup.
On a “Humane Animal” episode starring real-life husband and wife Dylan and Becky Ann Baker play as retirees couple Neil and Caroline, the husband desperately tries to bring his wife into his retired life, a frontline nurse, who most enjoys the adrenaline rush at the hospital. Cautious and boring “Neil” the radiologist, then tries various means of emotional blackmail to deter his wife from continuing with her risky job.
Like these two life-related stories there’s a variety of other different episodes that relate to a certain extent with what the majority of people from all ages and races and backgrounds went through when the pandemic and protests came knocking at our door. It shows how it affected each and every one in different ways. Ultimately, “Social Distance” is about people struggling to stay connected with each other and coping with isolation and integrating the “new normal” to everyday life. It includes important pieces of history and years from now this may be one among the only pop-culture records of how people lived in the pandemic, captured by the tools people used in the pandemic.