Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Illustration for article titled Tina Fey, Mike Schur, and 35 other showrunners on the coronavirus episodes that couldve been
Screenshot: 30 Rock; Frasier; Friday Night Lights

One of the first things ‘90s kids did once self-isolation set in was to dream up their own episodes of Seinfeld. How, one wonders, would Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer deal with a global pandemic and a culture of social distancing? We even shared a script for a full episode, “The Quarantine,” written by one curious fan. Well, it turns out it’s not just fans wondering how their favorite characters would fare, but their creators, too. In an epic new feature, Vulture called upon 37 different showrunners and creators to share what own shows might look like in the face of COVID-19. They include storied sitcom writers like Tina Fey (30 Rock), Mike Schur (Parks And Recreation), and Christopher Lloyd (Frasier), as well as the minds behind drama series like Lost, The Shield, and 24. Even some current showrunners, like Gentefied’s Marvin Lemus and Linda Yvette Chavez and Dickinson’s Alena Smith, shared their thoughts.

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For example, here’s Fey on what 30 Rock’s Tracy Jordan would be up to:

Tracy has already contracted and survived the virus (“My snakes eat bats and then I use my snakes to practice French kissing, so it was inevitable, Liz Lemon!”), so he would declare himself an immune “green person” and set out to help. (Tracy: “Like Mister Rogers said, ‘Look like the helpers.’”) So, dressed as a firefighter, he would volunteer his time delivering illegal box jellyfish to the elderly.

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But the best part, perhaps, isn’t even the narratives so much as the way they’ve been presented here. Veep’s David Mandel, for example, imagined Selina Meyer’s coronavirus response as a chapter from her biography. Jason Katims, meanwhile, wrote a stern, low-key inspirational speech in the voice of Friday Night LightsCoach Taylor. “You will put yourself and your family and your community at serious risk if you act like a jackass,” he declares, and, Christ, will somebody please get this to Kyle Chandler?

INT.: PANTHERS LOCKER ROOM

COACH TAYLOR

The district announced schools will be closed starting tomorrow, so this is the last time we’ll be meeting for a while. Maybe a long while. The least important thing right now is football. However. Still damn important. You’re still on this team. You still have football responsibilities. We’re lucky enough to live in Texas. There’s tons of empty spaces. Go find one and do your running, do your suicides, do your stretches. If you’re a quarterback, hang a truck tire in your yard and throw a football through it an hour every day. Is that understood?

TEAM

Yes, sir.

COACH TAYLOR

Meanwhile. There is a certain segment of our population who believe that the rules do not apply to them. That they don’t have to worry about all this. And I’m staring at 60 members of that segment of our population right now. Gentlemen. You will put yourself and your family and your community at serious risk if you act like a jackass. So I’m asking you to take this is as seriously as you have taken anything in your life. Practice your social distancing. Stay at home. Your social calendars are officially on hold. And in case I haven’t made myself clear enough, let me state it more plainly. No parties. No sex. No physical contact. Is this absolutely clear?

TEAM

Yes, sir.

COACH TAYLOR

Good. Do not let me down on this one, gentlemen.

Jane The Virgin’s Jennie Snyder Urman recruited cast member Jaime Camil for a social distancing vlog from his character, Rogelio de la Vega.

And then there’s this brief, wonderful exchange between Frasier and Niles as written by Lloyd.

FRASIER sits at a table with a cappuccino.

FRASIER

Good morning, Niles.

NILES sits at a separate table with a cappuccino.

NILES

And to you, Frasier.

NILES, in rubber gloves, wipes his chair with his handkerchief, then moves on to wipe his open laptop. We now see they are in different houses and speak via Skype. NILES wipes his camera lens.

FRASIER

Not that I don’t delight in the squealing of your rubber glove across the camera lens, but Dr. Freud might wonder if an excess cleansing of one’s physical space doesn’t bespeak the distinctly unclean state of one’s own mind.

NILES

I have had impure thoughts during this confinement. Last night at virtual wine club, I assayed a ripe Bordeaux held more promise than the loose laces on a beer-hall barmaid’s peasant blouse. 

Read the full piece here, which also includes a heart-swelling Elmo monologue from Sesame Street’s Ken Scarborough and an admiral’s log in which Jean-Luc Picard posits that we will emerge from this “stronger” andperhaps more aware of the profound connections we have always shared.” A nice thought, that.

Send Great Job, Internet tips to gji@theonion.com

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Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.

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