Social Distance is a show you should probably social distance from if this pandemic is getting you down or you need a break from the constant bombardment of news. Look, at the end of the day this situation we’re all in isn’t ideal and most people escape to Netflix and other streaming platforms to forget about their day to day problems.
Social Distance then is an 8-part dramatized anthology that puts this current pandemic front and center across various different scenarios. Some tales are lighthearted and funny – like a face-timed funeral in episode 2 – while others are a mixed bag of good, forgettable and outright melodramatic absurdity.
From a coughing woman on death’s doorstep thanks to Corona (at least you’d think so given her husband’s search history) to an all-out heated debate about George Floyd and American history, Social Distance is a show designed to stir up your emotions and accentuate the very problems many people are trying to escape from.
On paper, the idea of an anthology like this is a good one, and the various cutaway edits featuring search bar typing, social media feeds and face-timing feel like a natural extension from 2018’s excellent thriller Searching. Instead of showcasing a variety of different circumstances however, Social Distance predominantly focuses on the negative implications of what’s happening – even when it’s trying to be funny.
I can’t help but feel that Social Distance could have thrived had it changed the narrative on its head. There are so many positive stories around and while I’m not suggesting we all bury our heads in the sand, I do think people enjoy a feel-good story as much as a depressing one.
People are taking up hobbies they never did before, families are spending more time together at home and there’s even reports of some couples falling in love with their neighbours thanks to quarantine. That’s before even mentioning the global positive effects on the climate our lack of commuting to the office is having.
Things are tough right now no doubt but I’m not sure if Social Distance is the right show to release at this time. There’s some nice ideas about social media pressure and break-up woes in here but they’re all interwoven with constant nods toward real world events primarily geared toward the US.
Like any anthology series, there will be some episodes you really take to and others you dislike. Personally, the first two episodes are the strongest but with each clocking in at around 20 minutes or so this is an easy show to get through.
The subject matter however may be a little sensitive for some. As a snapshot of people’s lives, Netflix’s anthology series Homemade attempted this earlier in the year to mixed acclaim. Here though, we’ve got an attempt at a scripted show in the same vain but for me, leans way too close toward over-dramatizing events than it perhaps should.
While some will be taken with this series and revel in its cultural, timely ideas, I can’t help but feel that those interested in real-life stories about coping through Corona will just load up YouTube and watch their favourite Vlogger instead.