From ‘SNL’ to Meryl Streep: The case for streaming nearly everything in the coronavirus era

Stream it. Stream it all.

Everything. Whatever event you think won’t work as a Zoom meeting or whatever? Stop worrying. Try it. Because, for the most part, so far so good. The “Parks and Recreation” stay-at-home episode couldn't have come soon enough.

Like many other people, I’ve watched the two episodes of “Saturday Night Live at Home” that have aired so far. They weren’t great, but they had as many good moments as a regular show would have. (Plus: Brad Pitt!)

I also watched the first round of the NFL Draft, and not only because I wanted to see what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s basement looked like. (Frankly, I was disappointed. The guy makes, what, $40 million a year? It looked like the set of “Wayne’s World.”) In addition to Arizona Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury's ridiculously swank digs, it was also kind of cool to see the players at home, the coaches and general managers in their various setups.

Weird isn't even weird anymore

I even watched “Take Me to the World,” the 90th birthday tribute to Stephen Sondheim, and not just because I was bored. That was only part of it. In truth, most of the other part was that my son wanted to, but again, I liked seeing Meryl Streep’s living room or whatever, and I was curious to see if I would recognize any songs. (Nope.)

It didn’t matter. I didn’t care, nor do I ever, about the quality of the livestream. (Then again, I was a big fan of the lo-fi movement in music in the 1990s, so keep that in mind.) I just like seeing this stuff because no matter what the event, no matter how it’s done, it is a legitimate example of making the most of a difficult situation.

And how often does that happen?

There is a real charm to a lot of this. It’s appealing for several reasons.

One is our capacity for normalizing things, to say nothing of our desperation to do so. Think about it.

A month ago seeing someone in the supermarket wearing a mask and gloves to shop would be unusual. Now not seeing it seems weird (and not wearing it irresponsible).

Your local weather forecaster is predicting surface-of-the-sun temperatures from her kitchen? Sure, why not? Who even notices that anymore? The number of in-their-homes mini-concert choices grows by the day, and it’s really cool, especially when the whole band participates; I’ve already trained my eye to scan a Zoom grid to focus on particular members. I had no idea how much I would enjoy Willie Nelson and his sons, but I did.

A look at Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury in the team's draft night war room.

Seeing other people at home is comforting, whether they're Jimmy Kimmel or Kliff Kingsbury

Curiosity plays a part, too.

Again, who doesn’t want to see what a famous person’s house looks like? Or how they want to present themselves to the world? That’s the thing: The people on-camera control what we see, and it can be fascinating to watch. It paid off big time for Kingsbury, who looked like a model in a rich-hipster edition of Architectural Digest.

But if you’ll forgive the armchair psychology, the biggest reason watching all of this is so comforting is because no matter what you’re watching, you are seeing people confined to their homes.

Just like the rest of us.

Sure, Jimmy Kimmel’s house may be nicer than mine, but so what? We’re all in the same boat. Well, we’re in different boats. His is more like a nice yacht and I’ve got a dinghy, comparatively. But we’re all in the same sea. It’s a sea of unrest, and watching these events and shows and specials provides a nice little life preserver.

Keep it going. Leslie Knope would approve.


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