Keep Covid out of pop culture | Matt Mohan-Hickson

When I read the description for the final episode of Last Chance U Basketball on Netflix, I didn’t clock at first what it was referring to.

Monday, 19th April 2021, 6:42 pm
Updated Monday, 19th April 2021, 6:45 pm
Shoppers return to Gunwharf Quays on April 12, 2021. Picture: Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

The previous episode had finished on a cliffhanger with East Los Angeles Community College, the team followed by the show, on the verge of losing in a massive upset.

So when I read: ‘A record-setting season for ELAC comes to an end in a way that nobody saw coming’, I initially assumed it meant that they had crashed out of the playoffs.

But then as the episode began, it became all too clear what the description was actually referring to. It was none other than Covid.

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Up to this point in the series there had been no reference to the virus – or really to when the show takes place.

Now there were lingering shots of hand sanitiser dispensers. Clips of news programmes and discussions from March 2020.

It was really jarring, and then I experienced a similar experience when trying to watch Formula 1 Drive to Survive.

I had heard so much about this show in recent weeks, I figured why not give it a go? And yet mere moments into the first episode, we were back in March 2020 all over again.

Then while completing my play-through of Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, I found an email chain in the game where people were asking my character if they had Covid.

It is just so off putting. For the last 13-14 months our whole lives have been recalibrated by the coronavirus pandemic.

In work, I have spent so much time writing about Covid – rounding up stats on cases, infection rates and death, day after day like I am in a reboot of Groundhog Day.

Then when I log off, I have been mostly stuck at home due to one lockdown or another.

There has been no way to escape Covid. So it makes it weird to see coronavirus suddenly be referenced in or portrayed in popular culture.

I remember in the early days of the pandemic, people wondered why there were not many novels from the first half of the 20th century about the Spanish Flu.

But now I have lived through the age of coronavirus, I just want to forget about it. I don’t want to watch movies or documentaries or play games with references to it.

Hello isolation, my old friend

It feels a bit like a cosmic joke. Society is beginning to reopen – trips to pub beer gardens and al fresco dining are on the cards again.

I was planning a shopping trip to Gunwharf Quays to refresh my wardrobe ahead of the summer, with perhaps a pint or two as well.

But once again I am stuck in isolation. The sun is shining through my window and yet again I can’t go outdoors to enjoy it. Even if it ends up being colder than it looks.

The most recent of my housemates has developed a dreaded cough – just in time for the weekend.

It is truly a cruel twist of fate, to be forcibly trapped indoors at a time when you can actually make plans again. At least when we were in isolation in January it was during the height of lockdown and we weren’t missing out on anything.

So make sure if you are making the most of our newfound freedoms, raise a glass for those of us who are stuck in isolation.

Falcon and the Winter Soldier has been a mess

I thoroughly enjoyed the first MCU show on Disney+, the weird and wonderful WandaVision.

With its play on TV conventions from across the decades and its mysteries just inviting viewers to speculate.

I devoured fan theories between episodes – eager to try and guess what would happen.

So when it came to an end, it was obvious that Marvel had set a high bar for its fledgling TV content.

I expected that Falcon and the Winter Soldier would be a fairly standard action thriller, with a higher budget than most television shows.

But instead it has ended up being a weird old mess, that both feels like it doesn’t have enough story to last six episodes and also has far too much story.

For a studio with such consistently high output like Marvel, it has been quite the disappointment so far.

Although it may all come together in the end. But I also thought that about the final season of Game of Thrones.