Clockwise from top-right: Niles Crane in Frasier, Tracy Jordan in 30 Rock, Sawyer in Lost, Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU, Elmo in Sesame Street, Coach Taylor in Friday Night Lights, and Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation.
Photo: Richard A Chance
Archie Bunker would prefer you stand six miles from him. Sawyer from Lost will probably face criminal charges for hoarding and reselling precious items. Elmo is playing musical chairs with his parents. The coronavirus hasn’t seeped into the shows we’re all bingeing to pass the time — and it won’t for a while since the industry is shut down — but how would TV’s most beloved characters navigate social distancing in these dark days?
We posed that question to dozens of showrunners, creators, and writers; 37 of them responded with scene scripts, monologues, and episode outlines, including a hilarious Skype session between Frasier and Niles, a classic locker-room speech from Coach Taylor, an excerpt from Selina Meyer’s biography, and a vlog for Rogelio De La Vega’s biggest fans. We even learned what caused the whole pandemic — you can blame it on Veep’s Mike McLintock.
The last known image of Pete Hornberger.
Tracy has already contracted and survived the virus (“My snakes eat bats and then I use my snakes to practice French kissing, so it was inevitable, Liz Lemon!”), so he would declare himself an immune “green person” and set out to help. (Tracy: “Like Mister Rogers said, ‘Look like the helpers.’”) So, dressed as a firefighter, he would volunteer his time delivering illegal box jellyfish to the elderly.
Jack would try to get Liz to go to the secret GE island off the coast of Connecticut: “It will just be the top executives, any wives under 40, and yes, Lauer will be there, but only because it was built into his deal years ago.” Liz refuses to go because of her desire to be egalitarian but also because everyone would probably be barefoot. Pass. She would shelter in place like nobody’s business and still somehow dodge sex with James Marsden.
Kenneth would be the most prepared, having grown up Eighth Day Resurrected Covenant of the Holy Trinity and observing its End of Days Countdown Calendar, which is different from most calendars. “For example, we’ve only had Christmas twice, but Easter is every four hours.” Jack would offer to buy Kenneth’s cupboard of canned chickpeas for a million dollars, but Kenneth would just give him two cans for free. “Hoarding is a sin, sir! Just like skateboarding or riding a horse you’re not related to!” —Tina Fey and Sam Means
At least Pawnee is doing okay.
First of all, Leslie would’ve known the CDC protocols for social distancing already, and they would’ve been instituted within 24 hours of the first reports of the coronavirus in America. A full-color poster explaining what people could and could not do would be posted on every lamppost and message board in Pawnee, and she would write a song with lyrics explaining what everyone’s responsibilities were going forward. Maybe it would’ve been set to a famous existing song, like “Imagine,” by John Lennon. But the lyrics would help people. And not make everyone angry.
Second, she more than anyone would recognize the importance of community. All town forums would be continued online. Zoom would be installed on everyone’s computers overnight. She would worry, though, about the lack of in-person contact, so she and Ann would have proper six-foot-apart walk-and-talks every day. If Ann swayed closer than six feet, she would be gently chastised, perhaps via spray bottle. Eventually, Leslie would invent some kind of wearable Hula-Hoop rig that would demonstrate how far apart they needed to be.
She would check in on Tom and Donna and April and Andy and 50 other people four times a day to see if any of them had a fever or cough. They would pretend to be annoyed but would secretly love it.
Ron would be thrilled because now there’s a reason for him to be alone with no one bothering him. But he’d worry about Leslie. —Mike Schur
Cheers, Dr. Crane.
FRASIER sits at a table with a cappuccino.
Good morning, Niles.
NILES sits at a separate table with a cappuccino.
And to you, Frasier.
NILES, in rubber gloves, wipes his chair with his handkerchief, then moves on to wipe his open laptop. We now see they are in different houses and speak via Skype. NILES wipes his camera lens.
Not that I don’t delight in the squealing of your rubber glove across the camera lens, but Dr. Freud might wonder if an excess cleansing of one’s physical space doesn’t bespeak the distinctly unclean state of one’s own mind.
I have had impure thoughts during this confinement. Last night at virtual wine club, I assayed a ripe Bordeaux held more promise than the loose laces on a beer-hall barmaid’s peasant blouse. —Christopher Lloyd
Boyd Crowder wouldn’t let a crisis go to waste.
Photo: Mark Seliger/FX
[Set in the time of “Fire in the Hole,” the Elmore Leonard story on which the series is based.]
Timing couldn’t be worse, said Devil, slouching into the falling-down church, swastikas and Aryan Brotherhood symbols on the wall. “How’re we gonna move on that bank with all the gov’mint types and the federal medical-swabbing and taking jabs, testing for the corona. You ask me, there ain’t nothing the matter; they’re just gonna use it to impose martial law.” “I didn’t ask you,” said Boyd Crowder. “And you’re wrong — the timing couldn’t be better. We set off a charge under a car in the ARH parking lot by the quarantine tents, the hospital’ll go into lockdown, the police and federals guarding it, everyone jumpy ’cause of the virus. While we stroll into the bank in Somerset, mostly empty ’cause of the distancing, and no one suspecting us, because us and everyone else, well, we’re supposed to be wearing masks.” Devil smiled, having not thought of it that way, why he was glad to be in Crowder’s Commandos, the way Boyd’s mind worked.
Dewey Crowe came through the door, breathing hard, Boyd asking if he was normally this out of breath walking up the church steps, an edge to the question, the way everyone was now with any sneeze or cough. Dewey said he’d been to see Ava, but there was a federal there, said he knew Boyd, but he’d run him off. “No, you didn’t,” said Boyd, looking past Dewey through the door. “He followed you.”
Boyd watched a man get out of a Town Car, putting on a cowboy hat as he walked like Gary Cooper toward the church. It’d been 20 years since Boyd’d seen him — the hat was new — but you spend 12 hours a day with a man
you never forget his walk. Devil joined Boyd in the doorway, asking who this was. “That there is Raylan Givens,” said Boyd. “We dug coal together.”
Six to ten feet apart, detectives.
“When I am not on the front lines of the pandemic with my squad, I am, of course, self-quarantining with my husband, Kevin, and our beloved dog, Cheddar the Dog. For breakfast, we have our favorite meal: unbuttered plain bagels with a side of lukewarm water. For lunch, we split a whole-wheat no-flavor Nutrition Brick (without crunch), and for dinner, we each have a portion of Kevin’s boiled rice. And for dessert, we split another portion of Kevin’s boiled rice.
Today I read Kevin’s favorite author, Faulkner, aloud to him. Then it was time for “Oboe Hour” (in which we listen to oboe music for one hour), then we did a Zumba class. Next, I read Cheddar’s favorite author, Rimbaud, aloud to him in the original French. Then I denied a request from Jake to participate in something called a “Mario Party.” After that, Kevin, Cheddar, and I learned how to build and operate an abacus (Kevin was hopeless). Then we took a stroll through the neighborhood, maintaining a distance of three meters from one another.
Now that I have reread what I just wrote, I realize that my routine hasn’t changed at all from before the pandemic. Be safe. Stay inside. Read your dog Rimbaud.” —Dan Goor
Social distancing king.
How are we supposed to manage day-to-day in this new era? Larry David has been trying to teach you for years: He put Purell on each table at Latte Larry’s, he waged a jihad against defecation in his restrooms, and he’s been practicing social distancing since before he knew what it was called. In fact, Larry finds that the government-mandated rules on social distancing don’t go far enough. They don’t cover group text chains, reply-alls, people who don’t know how to get off the phone, favors, or the online communal anythings that are inflicted upon us on a daily basis. We are doing a lot, but Larry thinks we need to do more. Larry wants his social distancing measured not in meters but in miles.
Isolated in his house, Larry doesn’t feel imprisoned. He feels relief. Think of all the time he’s saved because he doesn’t have to come up with a good lie about why he doesn’t want to have lunch with you or go to your poetry reading. When he goes for a walk, you can rest assured there will be no stop and chats. He might slip on to the golf course, even though it’s closed, and try to sneak a round in, but he’ll find that without people around, the black swans have gotten even more territorial.
Jeff would pretend to test positive for the coronavirus just to avoid Susie. But Susie would also “test positive” just to make Jeff miserable. So Susie and Jeff would be locked up in the house together. And the number of affairs Jeff has would go down but not to zero.
Leon would be dubious about all the hand-wringing about the hand-washing protocols. Especially after urination. “Why should I wash my hands when all I touched was me?”
When this is all over, Larry will go to the car wash to get it thoroughly cleaned. As he watches them put the finishing touches to the interior, he sees the car-wash employee sneeze into the drying towel … and then continue to clean the steering wheel with it. And Larry will walk home.
“Well … sonofabitch. You miss the boat on your COVID-one-nine stock-up? You need toilet paper? A thermometer or perhaps some slightly out-of-date chloroquine pills? Go to GetItFromSawyer.com. I may just have a hatchload of top-quality Dharma products available, including the above-mentioned items, plus Dharma beer, ranch dressing, tequila, green beans, refried beans, pinto beans, black beans, rubbing alcohol, chicken-noodle soup, boxed wine, soap, olives, chocolate-mint cookies, my own homemade boar jerky, and one asthma inhaler. Until we all get out of this purgatory — that’s just an expression; it’s not real purgatory — let me help you out. And so you know, time travel’s a bitch, but I may have gotten a little peek into our future, and we’re all gonna make it through this. (But I still don’t know who those people were on that other damn outrigger.) Until then, lots of love, stay safe … and namaste!” —Carlton Cuse
Archie and Edith enter through the front door, just returning from church, to find Gloria and Mike watching the news. Before they can get their coats off, Mike says, “There’s a pandemic, Arch. We need to practice social distancing. They want us to be six to ten feet apart at all times.”
Archie responds, “Sounds good to me, Meathead.” He turns to Edith, “I’m gonna take a nap. Wake me when it’s six to ten blocks apart. No, make that six to ten miles.” —Norman Lear
Schneider is so codependent on the Alvarez family that he would check in with them constantly. He’s also doing the work of an addict and attending AA meetings via Zoom. He’s taking care of himself and checking in on the tenants in his building. I see him going to the grocery store to get items for any of the elderly people who live in his building. I think he would be a helper.
Thankfully, Penelope is a medical professional, so Lydia is listening to her daughter. Which is so huge right now! Also, Penelope would be exposed because of her work, so she would be practicing a quarantine in her room as well as disinfecting anything she touches in the home to protect her mother and her children. I’m sure Lydia is talking to Berto and the popes a lot and catching up on every telenovela. Plus dance parties for sure! —Gloria Calderón Kellett
—Jennie Snyder Urman (script), Jaime Camil (performance)
Diana is sheltering at home, conducting Zoom meetings with the staff wearing a fashion face mask that she has blinged out herself. Thanks to Enzo, she is running a black-market business in toilet paper — which she trades for vodka and chicken parm from Carbone. After rereading Gabriel García Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera, she and Enzo slowly sanitize each other before bed. —Darren Star
Coach Taylor says: Wash your hands!
INT.: PANTHERS LOCKER ROOM
The district announced schools will be closed starting tomorrow, so this is the last time we’ll be meeting for a while. Maybe a long while. The least important thing right now is football. However. Still damn important. You’re still on this team. You still have football responsibilities. We’re lucky enough to live in Texas. There’s tons of empty spaces. Go find one and do your running, do your suicides, do your stretches. If you’re a quarterback, hang a truck tire in your yard and throw a football through it an hour every day. Is that understood?
Meanwhile. There is a certain segment of our population who believe that the rules do not apply to them. That they don’t have to worry about all this. And I’m staring at 60 members of that segment of our population right now. Gentlemen. You will put yourself and your family and your community at serious risk if you act like a jackass. So I’m asking you to take this is as seriously as you have taken anything in your life. Practice your social distancing. Stay at home. Your social calendars are officially on hold. And in case I haven’t made myself clear enough, let me state it more plainly. No parties. No sex. No physical contact. Is this absolutely clear?
Good. Do not let me down on this one, gentlemen.
*We hear AGENT LAURIE BLAKE’s acerbic, mellifluous VOICE OVER*
The great thing about Riverdale is that the town exists in a perpetual state of crisis. Indeed, Riverdale has been both in lockdown and quarantine mode before — but that was to combat a mysterious disease that was making all of the cheerleaders have violent seizures. (Turned out it was a by-product of Hiram Lodge’s drug-production operation — polluted river water.) If the coronavirus hit Riverdale, the kids would be in deep trouble, as they cannot keep their hands off each other and social distancing is definitely not their forte. But they are resourceful.
First, there’s the fully self-sustaining bunker Dilton Doiley built. The kids have been using it primarily as a sex-bunker for their trysts, but a good 12 people could hole up there with no problem. There’s electricity, food, water, and — presumably — plumbing.
Another place folks could hunker down is Pop’s Chock-lit Shoppe. When the town was rioting (again, thanks to Hiram), a group of citizens made their last stand at the diner. Most important, there’s a seemingly endless supply of milkshakes and burgers and onion rings to be had at Pop’s — and we know it does takeout and delivery.
And if the corona-crisis threatens to last beyond the end of their senior year? Knowing the kids, they’d probably hold prom despite the risk, secretly if necessary — I mean, there’s no way Cheryl Blossom is not being crowned prom queen this year. As for graduation, let’s get real. Given how little time any of these teenagers have spent in classes, would any of them actually be eligible for graduation? Well, maybe Kevin Keller. —Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Even in far more normal times than these, social distancing is a key aspect of stalking. The whole deal is you gotta stay far enough away that the subject of your interest doesn’t notice you watching. Currently, all nonessential workers in California have been told to stay home. This would include bookstore managers. But Joe Goldberg is such a good guy. He’d be the first to go get groceries and supplies for his neighbors, the single mom down the street, and, of course, anyone who might be self-isolating in the cage in his storage unit. And while he’s out and about, well … the addition of a face-obscuring mask or scarf and nitrile gloves to his usual jacket-and-cap “invisibility” look would render him even more anonymous, making this a perfect time to walk by an interesting uncurtained window without fear of being recognized.
Of course, it is very difficult to kill someone with, say, a brick or knife or hammer while staying six feet away from them. But luckily Joe isn’t a murderer and would never think of doing a thing like that. Sure, he’s concealing a slingshot, throwing stars, and a small handgun in his jacket, but he can’t imagine he’d ever have to use them. He’s a really good, peaceful, nonviolent guy, after all. —Sera Gamble
Portrait of a poet in self-isolation.
According to the myth of Emily Dickinson, die-hard recluse, she would have thrived in this time of COVID-19. She quarantined herself on a regular basis up in her floral-wallpapered bedroom, where she wrote her poems, many of them odes to privacy, solitude, stillness, withdrawal — even death itself. “The Soul selects her own Society — / Then — shuts the Door,” she famously declared.
But what if the truth about Emily Dickinson is more complicated than this? What if Emily wrote so intensely about solitude because she was trying to convince herself that the loneliness she felt was okay? What if these songs of privacy, of shutting out the world, were at least in part her attempts to heal, to reckon with, the painful, all-penetrating desire she felt to be heard by somebody, to be held, to be understood? Emily’s sister, Lavinia, once remarked that Emily “was always looking for the rewarding person.” This is a woman who corresponded for 24 years with a man, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, whom she met IRL just once. A woman who, hidden away in her room, couldn’t resist lowering a basket of gingerbread down to the neighborhood children. A woman who wrote hundreds of love letters to her own sister-in-law, Sue, who lived in the house next door. No poet is an island, and solitude loses all meaning without companionship. The “polar privacy” Emily identified in her work can only be felt in contrast with the warmth of human relationships. The longer we are separated from each other, the more we will yearn to connect. And I have a feeling that Emily Dickinson would have hated Zoom. —Alena Smith
President Selina Meyer, Veep
Photo: Patrick Harbron/HBO
Note: The following is an excerpt from Size 2: The Year(s) of Selina Meyer, by Robert A. Caro. Mr. Caro managed to write this “quickie” life story in just 18 months before resuming work on his final volume of Lyndon Johnson’s biography, saying, “I chose Meyer because I write about power, and I thought it would be interesting to write about someone with very little of it.”
Chapter 28: January 2020
For a politician who hated everyday people almost as much as she hated touching them, President Selina Meyer’s role in fighting COVID-19 would prove quite ironic.
On the morning of January 3, President Meyer received her usual intelligence briefing and was informed of disturbing discussions between the Chinese government and the head of the CDC, her former physician, Dr. Hector Abernathy. This was the first on-the-record mention of the virus which had been spreading in the Wuhan province of China. According to contemporaneous notes, the president initially remarked “Ruh-roh” but then quickly lost interest and instead asked Dr. Abernathy a series of extensive follow-up questions on “what he could do about a real national crisis: her neck.” The CIA director then finished his briefing by stating that the virus represented a “serious threat” to the United States: “Nobody knew when it would arrive here, but it would be severe.” That was when Meyer shocked everyone.
As it turned out, President Selina Meyer was already familiar with the notion of a global pandemic, thanks to her former senior strategist Kent Davison, who believed “the only effective way to combat climate change was through a culling of the human population and the simultaneous construction of a system of electromagnetic trains à la the film Snowpiercer.” Meyer knew an actual pandemic could be deadly, and more importantly, she did not like sick people. They “grossed her out.” She did not like sick people at all. Or old people. “Or ugly people also,” a staffer recalled. She had stocked her administration with healthy, young, good-looking, immunocompetent people. But not too good-looking, because she also hated any competition. Regardless, between the virus warnings and her dislike of sick people as well as her long-seeded dislike of people from overseas, President Meyer sprung into action.
If you saw the series finale, you know that federal law enforcement was already trying to impose strict social-distancing regulations on Vic Mackey that he was already plotting to circumvent. Vic would not do well at all under quarantine. He was always a shark who had to be swimming among the people, regardless of the danger that presented to him or (especially) others. He definitely would not trust Zoom to communicate. Those conversations aren’t secure enough. He would almost certainly sneak out into the world and plot with other rule-breakers, maintaining a six-foot distance at all times, except when he had to deliver a swift kick to their balls to emphasize a point. He’d make sure to wear gloves, though. At the same time, he’d obsess over whether Corrine and their kids were obeying the shelter-at-home rules and insist emphatically on their compliance while ignoring those rules himself. —Shawn Ryan
It would be tough for Ray and especially Debra. Robert might wear a hazmat suit to come over. Frank and Marie would be fine. Marie would say, “Where am I going? As long as I can be here with my family, helping, I’m happy.” Debra would ask Frank for advice. Frank: “I’ve been quarantined for 56 years.” —Phil Rosenthal
The dedicated detectives of the Special Victims Unit are home, pursuant to a self-isolate order. This is their Zoom session.
FADE IN: BENSON, FIN, ROLLINS, CARISI, and KAT, all seen as talking heads in five small laptop-cam boxes.
So, everyone still feeling okay?
Fine. [Sneezes.] It’s nothing. I got allergies.
And my hands are raw from washing them 20 times a day.
I hear that. Fin?
FIN (who has been watching a different TV screen)
Sorry. I’ve just been sitting on my couch, gaming. I don’t get what all the fuss is about; it’s just a regular weekend for me.
It’s been eight days, Fin.
If you say so.
I’m holed up with a 5-year-old, a 1-year-old, and my dog in an 800-square-foot apartment. Can’t I come in and look at some cold cases?
Stay where you are. At least you don’t have to distance learn.
How’d that work out for you?
Well, Noah and I were supposed to study Mayan civilization, but we ended up watching TikTok videos. —Warren Leight and Julie Martin
After single-handedly stopping the spread of the highly lethal Cordilla virus, Jack Bauer is no stranger to pandemics. But because Jack is accustomed to taking action, he’d be feeling pretty restless in the face of the restrictions imposed by social distancing. Sure, he’d follow the rules, and probably sample that free month of Disney+ … unless, of course, he had the chance to do a crossover episode with another television show. One involving time travel. So he could roll back the clock a couple of months and travel to the “wet market” in Wuhan — the alleged ground zero of the animal-to-human transmission of COVID-19 — and free the pangolins and the bats from their cages before the shit hit the fan. Of course, none of us would ever know that Jack Bauer had saved the world yet again. But Jack would be just fine with that. —Howard Gordon
How would Elena Richardson handle social distancing owing to a global pandemic? In 1997? First, she would go to Sam’s Club (in yellow plastic dish gloves up to her elbows) in order to fill her garage fridge (and two garage freezers) with enough T-bone steaks, bagel pizzas, and Diet Peach Snapple for a small army. Though she’d continue to pay household staff, she would tell them to not to come in. Then, after getting step-by-step instructions on the new complicated vacuum Bill gave her for their anniversary, she would immediately institute a colorful chore wheel for her children that they will need to complete if they want to watch Real World.
Between wiping down surfaces and washing her hands until her knuckles bleed, she would keep book club alive with three-way calling, but would purposefully exclude Elizabeth, post Vagina Monologues controversy (yet she’d have no qualms about using Elizabeth to pull strings to get her whole family tested). When rumors abound that colleges might wave SATs this year, she would write an op-ed in the Shaker Times, saying that kids who tested early and scored well shouldn’t be punished; rather, they should be rewarded for planning and forethought. As for Bill, he would find a new way to avoid the children — and Elena’s mandate that they all watch Must See TV together — by making his own beer out in the garage, in the narrow space of real estate not occupied by Elena’s multiple towers of hoarded Charmin rolls. —Liz Tigelaar and the more neurotic members of the Little Fires writing staff
Pop? Self-isolating? Those things mixed together don’t compute. That man doesn’t know how to NOT work. Work is life and life is work to him. After a heavy, dragged-out argument, Erik and Ana would force him to stay home while they keep the shop running. They can’t risk Pop getting sick. Chris would create an over-the-top social-media campaign around his curbside pick-up that would irritate Erik, but at least it helps Pop be at ease while he stays home and catches up on some Netflix. However, he’d only get 15 minutes through an episode of Tidying Up before he starts Marie Kondo-ing the crap out of the house. Unfortunately, Erik would come home to find his high-school bongs got tossed out. They hold a lot of sentimental value. What can we say? Erik’s a romantic. —Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chavez
Gretchen and Jimmy, same as ever.
Jimmy and Gretchen would not know anything was happening in the world because mostly they stay home having weird sex and drinking. Gretchen would just be happy to hear her office is closed for the foreseeable future and wouldn’t read any further in the email, assuming the “COVID-19” in the subject line was just the kind of lame business-speak she’s highly proficient at pretending to understand. Edgar would be in a constant anxious state, in and out of the house with mask and gloves on, wiping down all groceries and takeout food, but they would simply wait impatiently for him to be done with whatever dumb shit he’s doing before grabbing their now-sanitized snacks and heading back down to their room, never wondering why Edgar was raving about that bad Mexican beer and wearing panic accoutrements, simply assuming he’ll eventually get his meds right or freak out and kill someone — either outcome being acceptable as long as it requires no effort on their parts.
During the confinement period, Jimmy might occasionally venture out to write — becoming mildly curious about the lack of traffic — and ultimately be confused about finding his café closed. Naturally Jimmy would not investigate any further, other than to assume that since cafés follow a terrible business model — a place where people spend maybe six bucks to occupy a table for hours! — it finally led them to financial ruin. Neither Jimmy or Gretchen read the paper or watch live television or follow anyone substantive on social media (Gretchen’s feed is all internet-famous animals and drunk teens falling off stuff), so the news only reaches them when Jimmy receives his sister’s ashes in the mail; she contracted the virus when she drunkenly tried to make out with Boris Johnson one night when he was walking his dog past the pub she was puking in front of. But by then, everything is open again and Jimmy and Gretchen quickly get sidetracked from having a real discussion about it when they discover that Fast & Furious 9 has been pushed off for a year. They spend the evening getting plastered, marathoning the first eight movies in the series, and lamenting how unfair life is. —Stephen Falk
The Conners have six family members all living in the same house. They’re strapped for cash, and stocking up for long-term isolation isn’t realistic for them. The Lunch Box would be shut down for the duration, so Becky and her baby and Jackie have no income. Dan wouldn’t have any construction jobs to bank. Darlene and Ben’s mug-shot magazine — which depends on ads from local businesses — would grind to a halt. Mark is too young to work. Harris’s job at the tattoo parlor would be on hold because that’s not an essential business. Of everyone in the family, she would be the most likely one to be out there hustling, making deliveries for Postmates or taking a job no one else wants, risking her health in a grocery store or maybe doing much-needed cleanup work at one of the overcrowded Lanford hospitals. As a result, she’s probably living with Jackie to protect Dan from being exposed to the virus. A little dark? People, it’s the Conners! —Bruce Helford
Jean-Luc Picard, Star Trek: Picard
“Admiral’s Log. The quarantine stretches on. Essential systems continue to fail. And though many of us are used to long periods of isolation, the prohibition on physical contact, not to mention our inability to leave the ship, is beginning to wear on even the most seasoned members of the crew. Remote communication flourishes — still I am reminded there is no substitute for a direct gaze or the reassurance of a friendly touch. I am emboldened by the crew’s resilience. Despite the hardship, they continue to work their stations; productivity and routine can be an excellent balm on fear. And fear they do, how could they otherwise? The threat we face is real with no immediate end in sight. But that does not make it endless. On the contrary, this period of darkness will end, as surely as it began. Fear will fade to memory. We will survive, stronger, perhaps more aware of the profound connections we have always shared. And a time will come when we once again right this ship and sail forward together into the future, that bright unknown.” —Akiva Goldsman
Bree Van De Kamp would be thoroughly prepared to meet the coronavirus head on. She would take great pleasure in knowing she had emergency rolls of toilet paper in the attic, extra bottles of water stored in the garage, and extra boxes of frozen food in her freezer out back. She would also be pleased to help out friends who were not so prepared — Susan, Lynette, Gabrielle — and would gently remind them she had been planning for this kind of catastrophe for years. —Marc Cherry
JOE and SARAH sit on their respective cots in Sarah’s fortified basement, each reading big books. Joe looks up, asks …
JOE: “Sarah, do you think they’re still gonna do Movie Night at the library next week?”
Joe removes from his mouth the cinnamon stick he’s been chewing on.
JOE: “Do you think that there’ll be Movie Night at the library next week?”
Sarah opens her mouth to respond but pauses. Of course, it’ll be canceled, but she knows how much Joe looks forward to the event each month and doesn’t want to give him the disappointing news.
Unfortunately, the pause lingers long enough for Joe to figure it out and he nods and returns to reading, disheartened.
Sarah sees the sad look on his face and begins to hum the tune of “Good Time Girl,” used in the opening credits of The New Pope, a television show that they have been watching this week — one episode each night before bed.
Joe doesn’t look up from his book but begins to move his shoulders up and down to the beat. Though he will never be able to dance like the attractive nuns at the beginning of each episode, Sarah and Joe imagine him doing so and smile.
They go back to their books. —Joe Pera
Because Emma is Emma, and she still keeps an eye on her old life in finance, she would have been paying attention to the Asian markets affected by the coronavirus way before many Americans were taking note. She’d constantly be watching the Reuters TV app on her phone, or her BBC app, or reading updates on Smartnews. And at the end of February, when she understood the virus to be undeniably here in the U.S., she would have tried to bring this up to Lyn in regard to the bar — except Lyn would have thought Emma was saying something or other about beer.
In fact, Lyn would not have “gotten it” until way later, when Mayor Garcetti made everyone stay indoors — a total overreaction, in Lyn’s opinion. This whole “cabrona virus” would become a source of contention between the sisters when, instead of engaging with Emma about the unavoidable (probably permanent) closing of the bar, Lyn would instead have gone on too many jogs, or for a cup of fruit from a street vendor when she should’ve been socially distancing, or gone back and forth between Johnny’s place for sexy times. (“What?! I was just checking up on him!”) But eventually, just like everyone else in Boyle Heights, Lyn would’ve had to realize that there was no way to avoid it. She was going to be stuck indoors with her prickly, cabin-fevered sister for the foreseeable apocalypse. —Tanya Saracho
Social distancing would be Ryan’s worst nightmare, as he’s a codependent who lives alone and doesn’t know how to do basic shit like boil water or navigate blinds. (The ones on his bedroom window have been up for months; he doesn’t know how to lower them, so everyone on his block has had the displeasure of seeing him naked.) He’d be spending approximately $40,000 a day on food delivery, which he justifies as “supporting local businesses.” For exercise, he’d go on three-hour walks around his neighborhood, channeling Hillary Clinton wandering the woods post-election loss. He’d keep a daily quarantine log for Eggwoke. Sample sentence: “Watched the pilot for Cheers, what ever happened to Shelly Long? Thought about masturbating but then Googled pictures of the Olsen twins smoking instead.” His mom, Karen, would be trying desperately to get him to ride out the ’rona storm with her, but he declines, wanting to prove to himself he can do it on his own. From 3 to 4 p.m. every day, he experiences a wave of optimism. Maybe he’ll use this time to get in shape, learn how to cook, write a novella. Maybe he’ll get to know himself. Like, really get to know himself. Be the person he always wanted to be. At 4 p.m., he orders pad Thai and jerks off to a porn about Mormons. Oh, well. Tomorrow is a new day. —Ryan O’Connell
Billy: Oi, you there. Yeah, you. Just keep your two meters away, mate. You take one step closer, and I’ll take that flagpole there, shove it so far down your throat, the Stars ’n’ Stripes will pop right outta your bum, folks will be salutin’ your arse all day. Trust me, I can bollocks a bastard and still keep my social distance.
Homelander: We are Americans! Would John Wayne be scared of a flu? No! So get out there and spend money! Make sure our stock market flourishes! And if a few million elderly people die, well, Grandma and Grandpa are making a heroic sacrifice for America! I’ll see all of you out at Easter! —Eric Kripke
Teresa Mendoza has seen her fair share of danger — bullets, knives, hand-to-hand combat, multiple kidnappings — but how would she combat a pandemic? She is pretty used to self-quarantining whenever she’s under siege, but usually she and her ride-or-die right-hand man, Pote, can shoot their way out of that situation. But you can’t really gun down a virus, even though Pote does suggest standing in front of their safe house and shooting anyone who gets closer than six feet. Teresa suggests a different approach, so Pote decides to protect Teresa with … pozole. He’s sure he can cure any malady with his cooking, a good dose of Vicks VapoRub, and burning palo santo all around the house to ward off the evil pandemic. At night, Teresa and Pote sit on the couch to watch The Great British Baking Show, and in the morning, Pote hits the internet to find out what a pinche pudding is. Meanwhile, Teresa does an intense at-home workout to keep off the pounds from Pote’s cooking and to get prepared for when she’s back to dealing with enemies she can actually see. —Dailyn Rodriguez and Ben Lobato
“Elmo wants all his friends to know that Elmo is happy at home with his family! Here on Sesame Street, things are pretty quiet. Well, except for Oscar’s can. Oscar says he’s spending his time doing some recluttering. He’s tossing out anything that brings him joy. And he wanted me to tell everybody out there, ‘Scram!’
In Elmo’s apartment, Elmo and his mommy and daddy are doing all kinds of fun things together. Elmo is practicing Simon Says — actually pretty tricky! — and racing his mommy when we play musical chairs. She’s fast!
Elmo’s mommy and daddy even set up a video chat, so Elmo can have virtual playdates with all his friends. (Elmo just learned that word: vir-tu-al! It’s a good one.) We sing songs together, and we have story time, and sometimes we have a big dance party.
Elmo sends you big virtual hugs … bye-bye!” —Ken Scarborough
If I Wrote a Coronavirus Episode