We are all living in a state of unprecedented unknown – for that reason alone, we are all in the same boat. Some boats are floating with more ease than others and others are sadly sinking during the Coronavirus pandemic that has shut the country down and led to hundreds of deaths.
So of course, in that sense of persepective, the shutdown of soaps like EastEnders, Coronation Street, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks seems trivial. NHS front workers are working 48 hour shifts and lacking key equipment, people are losing their lives and jobs and mental health will inevitably suffer.
Even after the infection gets under control (waiting for you Covidiots to have some sense so this can actually start to happen), the world will be a changed place, particularly economically.
However, all of that said, the cancellation of a show that has been a constant of our lives for 60 years and has only ever temporarily come off air once in its entire tenure is not just a tough blow to fans – but also a pretty key indicator of how serious COVID-19 is.
Keep calm and Corrie on no more – we are in unchartered territory where everything familiar is closing its doors to us.
So when someone is sad that their favourite cast members, some who are freelance and self employed, are sharing in this difficulty, should we shoot them down because someone has it worse? When someone isolated is going to miss the safety blanket of the familiar company of Walford residents, perhaps the only constant in their lives, should we judge them?
No, because get this – it is possible to be sad about things of less gravity while still having a perspective of the wider issue.
I have seen a lot of abuse directed at fans of soaps being sad to lose their favourite shows from air – they aren’t off yet but it’s a real possibility they will run out of episodes if lockdowns and self isolation continues.
But just because someone is going to miss seeing Emmerdale on their screens, they aren’t heartless or selfish to the wider and much more prominent issues.
I am pretty upset when I stub my toe or stand on an upturned plug – that doesn’t mean I am not aware that people are dying in the world and I am extremely privileged. It also doesn’t mean that I can’t scream out ‘F***!’ and feel sorry for myself for five minutes.
For many, the nightly routine of catching up on Corrie – especially for those lonely and isolated already – is a big change and will leave a hole in their lives.
Not everyone likes soaps and we all know that they are not the be all and end all of this situation – not anywhere close.
But is now the time to use your snobbery to judge what people enjoy and belittle them for feeling sadness about losing something they like?
We’re all sad about things that we took for granted being impossible right now – whether that is popping to the cafe for a coffee, visiting our friends and yes, watching Corrie.
Let’s not play Top Trumps because in every situation, someone is technically worse off than you no matter what your situation is.
But empathy, particularly at times like this, should not discriminate. Let’s all cheer one another up, appreciate that people can have both a small sadness at losing something they like and also be capable of having utter horror at the much worse things and stick together instead of seizing yet another opportunity to troll.
To many, soaps are a community that soon, they might stop being a part of. So let’s ensure the online community we are all left with while isolation is going on is a kind one – and one that can replace that comfort blanket for those whose favourite TV show can lift their spirits and literally impact their mental health.
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