Pandemic Diary, October 13th, 2020: Binge Watching the Zombie Apocalypse

Today is officially Day 212 of my working from home in self-isolation for my university library system. I am having a very bad day today, having slept poorly last night, after a Thanksgiving long weekend where I did not nearly get as much work done as I had hoped.

I rarely leave my apartment, and I am suffering from a bad case of acedia: listlessness, distraction, a lack of motivation, and wanting to avoid the task at hand. The only problem is, I have firm deadlines on several work projects which I must meet before the end of the month, so I keep pushing forward anyway.

My primary form of entertainment consists of binge-watching TV shows and movies on Netflix, mostly on my iPad while lying on the sofa or sitting at the kitchen table, and sometimes on the desktop monitor of my personal computer. (In addition to Netfix, I also have relatively inexpensive streaming subscriptions to both OUTtvGo and WOW Presents Plus for their LGBTQ fare. Sometimes I think RuPaul’s Drag Race and its spinoffs are the only thing that is keeping me sane during this pandemic.)

My tastes have recently veered towards the zombie apocalypse, a category of entertainment I would never have touched with a twenty-foot barge pole before the pandemic. I am amazed at just how much zombie content Netflix has!

The blacker my mood, the more I want to watch something bleak and gory, with a high body count. I rarely watch them from beginning to end. Depending on how I feel, I might skip ahead to avoid the more suspenseful or grislier sections, or even skip right to the end of the movie (or, for a zombie TV show, watch the pilot, then watch the final episode to see if it’s actually worth watching all the ones in between or not). There are no rules on how to watch the zombie apocalypse!

Here are three of my recommendations, all recent releases:

Black Summer on Netflix

Black Summer is a grim TV series, set in an unnamed American city five to six weeks after the start of a zombie apocalypse. A group of survivors tries to make their way to a downtown stadium, where a woman hopes to be reunited with her daughter, whom she was separated from during a chaotic military evacuation.

As terrifying as a zombie attack might be, what some of the survivors are doing to each other during the resulting breakdown of society is even more horrifying. I admire the way the creator makes us care about the characters, developing each of them in some detail—even the ones who are unexpectedly and brutally killed off before the end of the season. (2019 TV series, one season, Netflix)

To The Lake, a Russian show in Netflix

To The Lake throws together a disparate, fractious group of survivors, who are trying to escape Moscow and its suburbs to reach a remote northern lake in the middle of a Russian winter, during a terrifying, rapidly-spreading epidemic. Although the infected are never referred to as zombies, this is essentially a zombie apocalypse.

The character development in To The Lake is skillfully done, with good use of pre-epidemic flashbacks. As they travel north over many days, meeting and overcoming obstacles and dangers and encountering both unexpected friends and dangerous foes, we come to care for these people as they fight to reach their destination. Once again, not everybody makes it to the end of the first season. (2020 TV series, one season, Netflix)

Cargo: a Zombie movie set in the Australian Outback

Cargo is a zombie apocalypse movie set in the Australian Outback, where a man searches desperately for someone who will care for his infant daughter before he succumbs to his infection within 48 hours and becomes a zombie himself.

This movie is about as different from your standard zombie movie as you could get, both in its setting and its characters, which include several Aborigines. Yes, there is violence, but there are also heart-warming and even downright whimsical scenes. You will be cheering by the end of this one! (2018 movie, Netflix)

So, that’s all from me for today. Stay healthy and stay sane!

P.S. Yes, things are still going sideways here in Manitoba. A record 124 new cases of COVID-19 were reported today, 95 of them in the Winnipeg area. As of today, we are second only behind Quebec for the highest number of active cases per 100,000 people:

Active COVID-19 Cases Per 100,000 People by Province and Territory (Source: CBC)
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