Television Is No Longer the Escape From Reality the World Needs Right Now

All the virtual shows and live-streamed performances end up reminding us we're stuck at home.
April 22, 2020, 10:06pm

When Instagram Live is the hot concert venue and late-night hosts are talking to us from their living rooms, entertainment isn’t exactly a great getaway anymore.

In the past, we’ve turned to entertainment to lift our spirits in response to a tragedy. But now, with everyone gripped by COVID-19 and indefinitely out of office, all the virtual shows and live-streamed performances end up reminding us we’re stuck at home living through a pandemic.

“You’re watching a very special social-distancing episode of 'The Late Show,' or as I now call it, 'The Lather Show,'” host Stephen Colbert said on a recent episode, opening from his bathtub. “My first guest tonight, as you can see, is Mr. Bubble.”

The entertainment we’re creating now is half-formed, but we also have the old favorites written and taped before the world went into hiatus -- the dating shows, the sitcoms with co-workers bickering, the dramas with villains plotting. Some of us are binge-watching them, finding comfort in seeing life as it used to be, maybe feeling jealous of what the characters can do and where they can go, and hoping the world can look like that again soon.

Cover: YouTube/The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and YouTube/The Late Show with Stephen Colbert