Normally rom-coms provide us with a warm, fuzzy escape. But, it’s pretty hard to forget about the havoc COVID-19 is wreaking globally while watching characters experience all of the ups and downs and in-betweens of the virus-induced quarantine earlier this spring.
Freeform’s four-episode dramedy, Love in the Time of Corona follows four groupings of house-bound Angelenos as they navigate 2020’s new normal. Movie producer James (Leslie Odom Jr.) and his wife Sade (Nicolette Robinson) reconnect when his travel-heavy career comes to a screeching halt and debate whether the time is right to have another baby. His mother Nanda (L. Scott Caldwell) tries to keep hope alive that her meticulously-planned 50th wedding anniversary party will eventually take place, while hosting nightly virtual dinners with husband Charlie (Charlie Robinson), who is sequestered in an assisted-living facility and showing early signs of dementia.
Middle-aged couple Paul and Sarah (Gil Bellows and Rya Kihlstedt) try to keep their separation hidden from their newly dumped, formerly college-bound daughter (Ava Bellows) by moving in together and playing house. And finally, roommates Oscar (Tommy Dorfman) and Elle (Rainey Qualley) breach the line between besties and lovers when the former decides to open up their dating pool to include women.
Filmed remotely under social distancing guidelines in the homes of the actors — often relying on the real-life couples’ and families’ own wardrobes for costumes and furniture for sets — the limited series from Good Trouble co-creator Joanna Johnson highlights the uncertainty and awkward rituals of the initial days of the stay-at-home order, habits that seem second nature to us now. Masking up, donning goggles and gloves to go to the grocery store? Check! Virtual first dates? Check! Talk of plans when this is all over? Check! A car parade? Check!
With many people still refraining from meeting up with family and friends, is it too soon for a show like this? Hamilton’s Odom Jr. doesn’t think so.
“This show certainly isn’t about wallowing or retraumatizing in any way. This really is about gathering together to honor this really weird, strange time,” he says.
Bellows agrees. “The circumstances surrounding COVID create so many aspects of isolation for each of us in very different ways, so to see a grouping of stories that are identifying and portraying different aspects of the struggles and challenges that come with these experiences and are ultimately uplifting in this moment in time – I think that’s a very positive, useful and necessary part of what people should be taking a look at and seeing and considering right now,” he says.
For Caldwell, best known for the epic love story between Rose and Bernand in Lost, Love in the Time of Corona offers a chance for seniors to see their experiences reflected not only as vibrant romantic partners, but as individuals enduring an unprecedented event on their own.
“So many people are doing it that way,” she says. “They don’t have a choice. So, I’m very much looking forward to this story getting to people who are quarantining alone, ‘cause it tells them were thinking about you, we love you and we see you.”
Some aspects of the series seem quaint in retrospect — April feels like a decade ago on some days — but it will serve up a time capsule for future generations to ponder how we managed to be together, yet apart.
Watch Love in the Time of Corona On Demand on Freeform with Sling. Don't have Freeform? Click the link below to add it to your Sling package!