“Social Distance” Review

Story posted October 20, 2020 in Arts & Entertainment by Sarah Simpson.

COVID-19 brought on a lot of changes to everyday life when it first hit the United States seven months ago. People all over the world have been struggling to continue with their normal lives.

Many people have lost their jobs, businesses, family members, friends and more.

That’s exactly what the new Netflix series, “Social Distance,” shows through its heartwarming stories. Structured as an anthology series, the audience is introduced to a new group of people dealing with the pandemic in each episode.

The beautiful thing about “Social Distance” is how each episode is so different from the last, featuring powerful storylines and dynamic characters. It was created by Hilary Weisman Graham, and features different lineups of directors and writers in each episode.

The series deals with a slew of topics, including a recovering alcoholic struggling in isolation, a funeral held over Zoom, nurses unable to return home to their families and a child unable to spend time with his sick mother.

The actors’ performances definitely varied from episode to episode as they were faced with an entirely different cast each time. This made the tone of the show slightly difficult to follow as some episodes were more serious than comical and vice versa.

Some stand-out performances included Mike Colter as Ike the recovering alcoholic in “Delete All Future Events,” Danielle Brooks as Imani, a nurse to a disabled woman in “And We Could All Go Together/Go Out on the Ocean” and Peter Scanavino as Greg, the husband of an ill woman in “You Gotta Ding-Dong Fling-Flong the Whole Narrative.”

In certain episodes, the actors’ performances were incredible, as they were able to tell a powerful story. In others, the narrative and acting were both weak depending on the content of the plot and the actors’ execution.

The interesting thing about “Social Distance,” though, is that it was filmed entirely in isolation. In each episode, the story is told almost exclusively through various forms of technology. Most scenes take place over Zoom, FaceTime or Social Media, among other formats.

The series made a lot of creative choices when it came to idealizing different ways to tell the story. Some of these choices were interesting and effective, such as Imani watching her daughter alone on her home security cameras while she went to work in “And We Could All Go Together/Go Out on the Ocean.”

Other choices, such as conversations on Discord and TikTok in the episode “everything is v depressing rn” felt overdone and missed the mark. That episode in particular was a perfect representation of how teenagers are misrepresented in television and film.

Slang terms were forced into the dialogue with every other word, making it extremely cringeworthy.

“Social Distance” was overall a very emotional and honest series that will likely be sad to watch back in years from now, after living through the pandemic

Being one of the first pieces of media to document the pandemic, the creators were able to depict true experiences. Though some aspects of the show failed to capture the audience, it still told many heartwarming stories about life during a pandemic.

Rating: 3/5

Sarah Simpson is a junior majoring in film-video. To contact her, email sus816@psu.edu.