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How This Is Us, Evil, and more returning shows will address the pandemic next season

Entertainment Weekly logo Entertainment Weekly 10/2/2020 EW Staff
Milo Ventimiglia, Mike Colter posing for the camera: Ron Batzdorff/NBC; ELIZABETH FISHER/CBS; Nicole Weingart/Bravo © Provided by Entertainment Weekly Ron Batzdorff/NBC; ELIZABETH FISHER/CBS; Nicole Weingart/Bravo

It's unsurprising that many TV shows about essential workers will tackle the COVID-19 pandemic in their upcoming seasons. But what about other shows? Will creators want to integrate the pandemic to reflect reality, or prefer to give viewers an escape? The answers, naturally, vary from show to show, but the pandemic's presence may be felt on screen even if it's not directly addressed (for instance, see our very first entry below). And of course, everyone will be grappling with the virus behind the scenes with new safety measures in place. Here's how some of your favorite shows will address the pandemic when they return.

Charmed

Madeleine Mantock, Rupert Evans, Melonie Diaz are posing for a picture: Colin Bentley/The CW © Provided by Entertainment Weekly Colin Bentley/The CW

We all wish for a magical world where COVID didn’t exist, and Charmed is giving viewers just that when it returns. But that doesn’t mean they won’t still be working in some of life’s recent challenges to their storytelling when they return for season 3. “Though we don’t address COVID directly (or the current pandemic explicitly), we will be exploring themes of ‘social distancing,’ isolation and lack of intimacy in our magical storylines,” said showrunners Liz Kruger and Craig Shapiro via email. “We felt it was important to incorporate the emotional struggles we are collectively experiencing at the moment, without making it a literalization of our day to day lives.” —Maureen Lee Lenker

Evil

Mike Colter et al. sitting at a table in front of a cake: Elizabeth Fisher/CBS © Provided by Entertainment Weekly Elizabeth Fisher/CBS

Since Michelle and Robert King constantly draw inspiration from headlines, some people have wondered if and/or how they would address the COVID-19 pandemic on their metaphysical drama Evil. Well, EW has learned that the Kings aren’t doing a coronavirus storyline in season 2. “We saw how many shows were heading in that direction and it felt like viewers might possibly be sick of it,” the Kings told EW in a statement. “It makes sense to use COVID if it serves some basic plot point, or if the only way to make a show safely requires the background wearing masks, but we didn't have those issues.” That being said, they haven’t ruled out the possibility on The Good Fight yet. “The Good Fight might be a different kettle of fish mostly because it's based on current events, but we haven't started that room yet,” they said. —Chancellor Agard


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Manifest

Craig Blankenhorn/NBC/Warner Brothers © Provided by Entertainment Weekly Craig Blankenhorn/NBC/Warner Brothers

When the flight 828 passengers land back on our screens next year, it'll be without a COVID storyline in tow. "For me, it all came down to masks," says Manifest executive producer Jeff Rake. "In order to tell a story responsibly in a COVID universe, our characters would have to be in masks whenever they leave their homes, which is quite often this season as we expand our world and dig deeper into the Flight 828 mystery. So the lesser of evils was to keep the story in our alternate universe, in which a plane disappeared and came back, and in which there is no pandemic." Who would've thought a twisted reality where an aircraft gets lost in space for 5 years would be preferable to the one we currently live in? —Ruth Kinane

The Real Housewives of Orange County

a group of people posing for the camera: Tommy Garcia/Bravo © Provided by Entertainment Weekly Tommy Garcia/Bravo

About five weeks into shooting the 15th season of The Real Housewives of Orange County, production had to shut down as the country entered lockdown. “We were just sort of gearing up,” OC Housewife Shannon Beador tells EW. But even in quarantine, the reality show must go on: “We were asked to try and document what was happening in our homes, so for me… I would document the good and the bad,” she says with a laugh. “I don’t know what you’re going to see, but I wanted to be authentic.” Normal production resumed (at a distance) in July — at which point Beador and her three daughters had all tested positive for COVID, so she wasn’t allowed to resume filming along with the cast until she was completely recovered. “It’s [a season] unlike any other,” she promises. Never say these Housewives don’t keep it Real. —Mary Sollosi

This Is Us

Justin Hartley et al. sitting on a bench: Ron Batzdorff/NBC © Provided by Entertainment Weekly Ron Batzdorff/NBC

The Pearsons and the pandemic will indeed cross paths this season on This Is Us, as creator Dan Fogelman has confirmed that NBC’s hit family drama will delve into the global catastrophe “head on.” The related story lines won’t alter the long-range plans for any of the characters, but will enhance them and bring to the surface “a whole host of different feelings and issues as we all try to make sense of where our world is right now,” he tells EW. And it sounds like not all Pearsons might interface with the pandemic or be impacted by it in the same manner. “People are wildly affected in different ways about what's going on in the world right now,” says Fogelman. “ It would be really simplistic that everybody's just kind of locked in their house, getting bored of Zoom calls, when hundreds of thousands of people are dead and it's affecting different communities differently. So we're attempting to put a human face on what's gone on in the last half a year to a year.” —Dan Snierson

Milo Ventimiglia, Mike Colter posing for the camera: Here's how 'This Is Us,' 'Evil,' and more returning shows will address the COVID-19 pandemic in their upcoming seasons. © Ron Batzdorff/NBC; ELIZABETH FISHER/CBS; Nicole Weingart/Bravo Here's how 'This Is Us,' 'Evil,' and more returning shows will address the COVID-19 pandemic in their upcoming seasons.

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