The image of a writer hunched over their keyboard alone may be what you think of when you picture how fictional worlds are created, but in television, a writers’ room is the sacred space where people huddle together, convening over small talk and snacks (lots of snacks), to make believe as a collective. Physical distancing isn’t exactly conducive to this process, which is one of the reasons why the COVID-19 pandemic has brought many productions around the country, and in Hollywood, to a sudden halt.
At the same time, we’ve seen the demand for new shows rise (after all, there’s not much else to do during quarantine than watch TV), which means people behind-the-scenes have had to come up with creative ways to make TV from their homes. American Idol is doing live shows while Katy Perry video conferences in from her living room (dressed in various ridiculous costumes). Writers are now meeting over Zoom and some scripted shows are shooting remote episodes and even resorting to animation to finish their 2020 seasons. All these unexpected changes have resulted in job losses (the Canadian film and TV industry is projected to lose $2.5 billion in the wake of the pandemic). For people of colour — who already have an uphill battle in the entertainment industry — their futures are even more uncertain.