The Netflix series proposes, over eight episodes, to portray the lives of different characters isolated by the pandemic. And the crude identification of the situations does not invite empathy,
April 2020. Ike is a hairdresser forced to close his business due to the pandemic. “My trade is not essential, but the armories and liquor stores are,” he says with anger. His girlfriend left him shortly before confinement and he is a recovering alcoholic. As days go by, he ends up becoming a guy who disguises his flowerpot, talks to his fern and shares those photos in search of some likes that serve as consolation.
That’s one of the stories of Social distancing, the eight-episode Netflix production, created by Hilary Weisman Graham (Orange is The New Black) and filmed in isolation. There is no common thread between the characters in the chapters and their lives, except -of course- the development of actions during the pandemic.
Just as Ike must deal with his ghosts and the ravages of loneliness, there is a couple who, bored with routine and confinement, decide to find a third party for a sexual adventure. A mother desperate not to lose her job and take care of her daughter who is being watched by an application.
Although the directors vary throughout the episodes, the creator opted for the same narrative that is familiar to our digital consumptions in pandemic. The shots are similar to the ones we use with our devices and we see all the icons of known applications on the screen, like Zoom, Tik Tok and other dating. As the stories progress – and chronological time too – other themes are added in addition to the virus.
Hilary Weisman Graham’s goal was far from easy: talk to the public about a global phenomenon that is still happening. And, in addition, try to reflect on such a collective drama. The problem of Social distancing it lies in the lack of power and daring in approaching the stories.
Although the conflicts are well planned, the characters are a great sum of morals. In episodes, things are usually “right” or “wrong.” For example, the couple looking for a third party finally realizes how deeply in love they are despite everything.
Except for one episode that tells the story of a teenage girl and her world of virtual interactions, the rest browse the generality. The stories are not very organic and, at times, they are bland.
The series has good intentions and some scenes achieved thanks to a solid cast formed by Daphne Rubin-Vega, Guillermo Díaz, Danielle Brooks and Dylan Baker. But it turns out not very nutritious in its succession of shots with webcams and smart phones.
Perhaps we are too close to the topic – and too in the mud – to produce a good creative legacy on the pandemic. Or maybe it is unattractive to see a fiction about the lives of other inmates, with struggles and miseries so similar to ours.
Gender: Dramatic comedy.
Protagonists: Brian Jordan Alvarez, Asante Blackk y Becky Ann Baker.
Creator: Hilary Weisman Graham.
Issue: Netflix. Duration: eight twenty minute episodes.