Escaping reality, one episode at a time

Some+of+the+characters+in+Parks+and+Recreation

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Some of the characters in Parks and Recreation

Greta McLaughlin, R1 Editor-In-Chief

Every time I look at my phone these days, a new notification about COVID-19 pops up. I am constantly reminded about the shortage of test kits, rising cases, debated peaks and the cancellation of events. When I eat breakfast, the newspaper on the table has headlines emphasizing how screwed we all are. Even going for a walk around my neighborhood solicits comments from people I know about how bad life is going to get.

The truth is, so many people around the world are going through the same exact experience as me, or even worse, and it seems as if it is going to be quite a long time before life goes back to “normal.” So, how are we supposed to cope with everything for the time being? Escapism. Specifically, escapist television and films.

People need an outlet where they can engross themselves in something that completely distracts them from reality. For me, I have been rewatching Parks and Recreation to get a good laugh in and, perhaps more importantly, to be preoccupied by normal, day-to-day office life. 

The biggest problem in Pawnee, Indiana is the death of Li’l Sebastian, the miniature horse featured throughout the series. Residents yell about the unfinished parks rather than quarantine restrictions, and the Harvest Festival goes on without fears of social distancing and cancellations. For a little bit every day, I do not fear the outside world, I do not stress about getting sick, and I feel like I can finally relax.

I have always been interested in escaping reality, not because life has ever been so bad for me, but because escaping was simply entertaining. When I was younger, through books, movies, and shows, I could leave my oftentimes monotonous life and read about witches and wizards, watch mermaids trying to survive in a human world and see films about risky contests of skill and wit. 

I found peace in these outlets and lost myself in all of the stories. I was living several lives at any one time, and I was able to explore different time periods, places and people from my bedroom.

Although the need to escape is a bit more critical today, it is the same concept that I, and many other people, have been doing for years. We all need to leave our realities for a bit every now and then, and, in the age of COVID-19, it seems increasingly important.

Of course, it is integral to listen to the news and to know what is going on in our world. We should understand that the current situation is quite serious, and we all need to take the necessary precautions and follow preventative measures in order to flatten the curve.

However, the importance of escapist television and movies cannot be ignored. When you finish a film or episode, everything will be the same in the outside world. Nevertheless, even an hour or two of escape can be crucial in maintaining your sanity in this uncertain time.