Jenji Kohan

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Remember the word or phrase of the year that is revealed at the end of every twelve months? It has never been easier to bet on what it will be this time at the end of 2020. “Social Distancing” is a term born out of a pandemic that most of us could have never anticipated. And before March we would not have known how to define its meaning. Now that we are all practicing it (hopefully), it has become part of our vocabulary, part of everyday speech, just like (unfortunately) Corona and Covid. Social Distancing has burnt itself into our collective minds. And so it should come as no surprise that it was chosen as the title for the first TV-series about the strange times we now live in.

Who better to create an anthology than Jenji Kohan, the woman behind Orange is the New Black and Weeds? Kohan is known for her offbeat humor, so we can expect the stories to have her special brand of dark comedy since this is a fully scripted series. The idea to produce something creative out of a situation that affects the whole world is obvious and we can expect many more films, TV episodes and possible reality TV series to come out on the subject in the coming year, as many struggle to get their other projects made and several scripted series have begun to film episodes shot entirely at home, like the legal drama All Rise, that aired an at-home episode in early May and the upcoming 30 minute Parks and Recreation reunion special, done entirely from the homes of cast members like Rob Lowe, Rashida Jones, and others.

What is Social Distancing (the series) all about and more importantly: how will it be shot? Kohan told the Hollywood Reporter: "We've been inspired to create an anthology series that tells stories about the current moment we are living through – the unique, personal, deeply human stories that illustrate how we are living apart, together. We are challenging ourselves to do something new: To create and produce virtually so that our cast and crew can stay healthy and safe. Writers never physically meet during the writing process. Our director, Diego Velasco, directs our talent remotely. Our showrunner, Hilary Weisman Graham, runs production from her living room. The cast not only acts but also films themselves at home. The experience of social distancing is currently universal, but no individual story is the same. Through a broad spectrum of tales and moments, some seismic and some mundane, we hope to capture a moment in time. And we hope that Social Distance will help people feel closer to one another."

The use of devices that we have all become familiar within these past few months is especially interesting. From Kohan’s explanation, we can gather that there will be Zoom parties and family facetime. The cast has not been announced yet and neither has the number of episodes.

Social Distancing won’t be the only series dealing with this subject. A second project just received a straight-to-series order. Its title: Love in the Time of Corona.

The four-part limited series is clearly a romantic comedy created by Joanna Johnson (Good Trouble, The Fosters). It will be a funny and hopeful look at the search for love, sex, and connection during this time of six feet apart-rules. Unlike Social Distancing, Love in the Time of Corona already has a release date. It will premiere in August. Just like Social Distancing, however, the filming will be remote. The comedy is comprised of interwoven stories and an ensemble of characters who are sheltering at home and pondering the question of how their love life can and will progress if their only chance of a hook-up is with their roommate. Another episode will feature the hot topic of isolating with the ex and realizing that this idea may have been quite idiotic. 

 

The big question about all of these projects is whether or not the public is ready to relive experiences that may hit too close to home and to laugh about this world-wide crisis yet. But possibly, laughing is the best we can do to heal.