TV is finally catching up with 2020.
Here in the real world, COVID-19 first upended our lives way back in March.
But only now are TV's prime-time network shows -- always a barometer of the high- and low-pressure areas in our national life -- reflecting the real-world realities of a pandemic and politics.
Scripted TV's late arrival on the COVID-and-campaign scene is due, of course, to restrictions on production that prevented the fall TV shows from being made in time to premiere in September and early October.
But now, they are starting to trickle onto the air, complete with face masks, social distancing and other touchstones of modern life.
The show pictured above is a case in point. It is “The Conners” on ABC -- from the episode airing this week on Wednesday. Talk about topical: The episode's title is “Halloween and the Election Vs. the Pandemic.”
The title manages to encompass everything that is coming to a head this week and next -- the seemingly out-of-control spread of COVID currently, the voting on Election Day next Tuesday (voting that has already begun in earnest practically everywhere already) and, this weekend, an annual holiday, Halloween, that this year has been curtailed due to COVID concerns.
Imagine that -- Halloween emerges as a symbol of the many ways our lives have been disrupted this year, especially where our leisure activities are concerned.
In the episode, discussions of politics are juxtaposed with concerns about COVID. Specifically, young, sensitive Mark (Ames McNamara, pictured above) gets into a fight at school with another boy who teases Mark about wearing a mask.
And Darlene (Sara Gilbert) and her dad, Dan (John Goodman), have a conversation about the intolerance of people today when it comes to considering points of view that are not their own.
The implication in the conversation is that Darlene and Dan are each talking about each other.
Halloween takes center stage in the episode, when Mark and cousin Mary (Jayden Ray, also pictured above) try and make the best of Halloween, with the help of their extended family members who make it possible for the kids to go trick-or-treating door-to-door inside their house.
This week's episode of “The Conners” is only the second episode of the show's new, third season, which started just last week. That season premiere, also topical, was titled “Keep On Truckin’ Six Feet Apart.”
Adam, TV entertainment show producers work in fairly rigid production cycles. It's not reasonable to expect that many of the shows now being aired will feature folks with masks---in line with the Covid-19 situation--as these programs were in the works long ago---not yesterday. Also, if I were a TV show producer who earns most of my profits from rerun syndication, I'd be wary of introducing elements---like masks--into my content, which might diminish the appeal of the show years later in reruns---long after the Covid-19 pandemic has----I hope---been tamed by an effective virus. Why date my shows in this manner?