As a TV critic, television was always my escape. Coronavirus made the rest of you understand.

As a TV critic, television was always my escape. Coronavirus made the rest of you understand.

When I was in the ninth grade, I came home from school every single day and turned on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

It was a routine, a ritual nearly as powerful as the slayer herself, and it continued long after high school. Not just with "Buffy," but with dozens (or more like hundreds) of TV shows that helped soothe and relax me as I coped with what I would later find out was anxiety and depression. TV is so important to me that I became a TV critic, watching episodes day in and day out, for money and for my own mental health.

TV has always been my refuge from the hard parts of my life and the world, but at a time of unprecedented societal upheaval and terror amid the coronavirus pandemic, I am not so alone in keeping my eyes glued to the small screen.

In the few short weeks – it has really only been weeks, if you can believe it – since social distancing became common practice, I have noticed friends, family, random strangers on social media and USA TODAY's readers craving television the way I have for most of my life. TV has always been there for me, and I am so happy that in a time of crisis, it is there for all of you, too.

A wall of TV sets.

Art as escapism is nothing new, nor am I unique in seeking it. During the Great Depression, movie ticket sales soared. But for me, there is something about TV that generates more comfort than many other forms of diversion and distraction. A movie is over in two short hours. Books are engaging until exhaustion and apathy kick in. Music has no story to transport me away from my problems.

But a TV show? A really good, engaging series with the right mix of wit, intrigue and emotion? That can keep your attention for hours or days. It can transport you to the hellmouth of Sunnydale, California ("Buffy"); 1960s Madison Avenue ("Mad Men"); or anywhere in time and space ("Doctor Who").

TV never required me to leave my house or attempt social interaction, like movies with others, a daunting prospect even when I wasn't a 14-year-old with no friends due to bullying. TV didn't cost anything, and it never changed when my family moved repeatedly. My life had a lot of unpredictability, but "Charmed" was always airing in syndication on TNT at 5p.m. weekdays.

Sarah Michelle Gellar in

My adolescence, and the mental health struggles that came with it, coincided with the rise of Netflix DVDs. My career in TV journalism has witnessed the streaming boom, and at the precise moment I needed it, TV was more accessible than ever. On any bad day, after any panic attack, I was soon able to turn something on that could, however marginally, make me feel better.

My reliance on TV, and my choice of career path, means that I watch far more of it than the average American. But right now, your life probably looks a little more like mine.

TV ratings tracker Nielsen has already reported a surge in TV usage over the past two weeks. Without the activities that people often flock to for entertainment and stress relief – movie theaters, concerts, live sports, after-school activities, days at the park, birthday parties, weddings, happy hours and shopping sprees – there has been much discussion about TV as a way to fill the hours after work and (virtual) school that once seemed so busy: What to watch to feel better, to distract you from the horrific news that comes out day by day. What to put on for your kids so you can get some work done at home. What to watch to feel normal again.

More:Coronavirus: 100 TV shows that will keep you streaming for weeks of social distancing

Staying home and staying busy doesn't seem as daunting to me as it might to others, because on any given weekend, I'm probably in front of the TV anyway. I've already finished eight seasons of "The Great British Baking Show" since the crisis began, but there are more series to come. And sure, I'll work out in my kitchen, maybe pick up knitting, walk my dog more often than usual, worry much of the time and do whatever I can to help amid this pandemic by staying home and donating what I can to those who need it.

But in a world turned completely upside down, I am so glad to still have those boxes of "Buffy" DVDs on a shelf.

Source: https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/tv/2020/03/30/coronavirus-made-tv-as-important-to-everyone-tv-critic/2920838001/

News Related

ORTHER NEWS

Trump’s ‘mission accomplished’ moment is premature and deadly. We have not defeated COVID.

Desperate for crowds and adoration, Trump has put his most fervent supporters at risk of getting a deadly disease. Future historians will be astonished. Read more »

NFLPA president JC Tretter says NFL is putting season, players at risk with its coronavirus approach

NFL Players Association president JC Tretter said Tuesday the NFL is putting the 2020 season at risk with its coronavirus approach, calling on the league to better “prioritize player safety.” “Like many other... Read more »

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro says he tested positive for the coronavirus

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro says he has tested positive for COVID-19 after months of downplaying the virus’ severity. Bolsonaro confirmed the test results while wearing a mask and... Read more »

Venice Film Festival forges ahead amid COVID-19 pandemic with reduced lineup

The show will go on for the Venice Film Festival in September, but with a few modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers said Tuesday that they are pushing forward with plans for... Read more »

Amtrak offers buy-one, get-one promotion on its sleeper trains amid COVID-19 — with a catch

Amtrak wants you to have sweet dreams the next time you travel — so much so that it’s sweetening the deal on its sleeper “roomettes.” The rail service is offering a buy-one-get-one-free discount... Read more »

Florida teen treated with hydroxychloroquine at home before dying of COVID-19, report says

FORT MEYERS, Fla. – The family of a 17-year-old Florida girl who died last month from COVID-19 treated her symptoms at home for nearly a week before taking her to a hospital, a... Read more »

Mookie Betts worried MLB coronavirus testing woes could prevent him from ever playing for Dodgers

During nearly four months away from the game, Mookie Betts said he “stayed away from baseball to keep myself sane.” It’s not hard to understand why. The 2018 American League Most Valuable Player... Read more »

Tom Hanks doesn’t get ‘how common sense has somehow been put into question’ with coronavirus

Read more »

Can Gov. DeSantis force Florida schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic? Some school leaders seem doubtful.

PALM BEACH, Fla. — As concern about the state order spread online, some school leaders said: Not so fast. As Florida educators puzzle over how to start the new academic year, Gov. Ron... Read more »

Texas surpasses 200,000 coronavirus cases after 4th of July holiday weekend

AUSTIN, Texas – Texas reached 200,000 total COVID-19 cases Monday, just 17 days after crossing the 100,000 threshold, a figure that took the state nearly four months to hit. The grim milestone came... Read more »