From “Grey’s Anatomy” to “This Is Us”, the Covid settles on TV

Characters on the front, masked, confined… From Grey’s Anatomy at This Is Us through the film Connected, Covid-19 and its consequences on daily life are taking hold in TV dramas, in particular American series, which are very reactive.

In cosmonaut outfit but still glamorous, the surgeons of Grey’s Anatomy will resume service Thursday with the launch in the United States of the 17th season, delayed because of the health crisis, but plunged to the heart of the subject thanks to a narrative leap.

Impossible for the medical series with record longevity “to ignore the greatest medical history of the century”, had summed up this summer its executive producer, Krista Vernoff, invoking a responsibility towards caregivers, in a podcast of the Hollywood reporter.

For showrunners of Chicago Med also, evoking the health context was obvious. “Not to do so would not have been realistic,” Diane Frolov and Andrew Schneider told AFP.

The first episode of season 6, launched Wednesday, will deal extensively with the “weariness” caused by the Covid, subsequently maintained as a backdrop, in particular via “new protocols put in place to protect patients and caregivers from the virus “.

Not surprisingly, other medical programs (The Good Doctor, The Resident…) Are or will come into contact with the pandemic, but its economic and societal impacts infuse beyond gender.

Despite the Covid, a little humor on TV

In the drama series This Is Us (on Canal + in France), which has just started its 5th season, the Pearson family wears masks, kisses from a distance or suffers the postponement of a clinical trial for another terrible disease …

And in The Conners, sequel to the sitcom Roseanne, it is the “economic prism” which is privileged to follow a working family “which still struggles financially and lives most of the time without a safety net”, underlines to AFP its executive co-producer and co-author Dave Caplan.

Thus, the whole family returns to live under the same roof, for which the father receives an eviction notice, her sister-in-law trying to save her restaurant by improvising herself as a bicycle delivery driver.

“It seemed natural to us to integrate the Covid” into the lives of characters who “had started businesses, were desperately trying to advance in their careers” before the virus interrupted it all, explains Dave Caplan. The team also chose, in rare cases, to incorporate the perspective of Americans reluctant to comply with science and health restrictions. “It’s something that really exists in our country,” says Dave Caplan. “So it is returned in our series”.

The pandemic, notes the co-producer and co-writer of Conners Bruce Helford, also created “new situations” and the opportunity to slip in humor from these new elements.


In France, the exercise is for the moment less established than in Hollywood, even if the romantic series Heart plan (Netflix) devoted a special episode to containment this summer.

The daily soap opera of France 2, Such a great sun flew over this period, to address its fallout: poorly paid nurse, her heroine, Claire, begins to rob the rich with the employee of a supermarket who like her “worked like crazy”, reports for AFP screenwriter Olivier Szulzynger.

If he intends to limit allusions to the Covid to guarantee viewers “a breath in the news” gloomy, others face the crisis head-on.

Tour during confinement, Social Distance (Netflix), co-produced by Jenji Kohan (Orange is the new black), explores in eight episodes and as many stories the maintenance of social links via screens and applications, while the film Costal elites (HBO) features five characters telling each other in front of their webcam.

On the Hexagon side, Dany Boon is preparing, for Netflix again, a comedy centered on confinement in a Parisian building.

And Amazon will unveil on Thursday Connected, a mixture of thriller and comedy on a virtual aperitif that degenerates, with Michaël Youn and Audrey Fleurot. A film “more topical than ever” in full re-containment, argues its director Romuald Boulanger, “convinced that we must tell stories that affect us directly.”

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