The coronavirus outbreak has led to the shutdown of schools, colleges, cinema halls and many office buildings in various states. People who have the option are working from home, and others are sticking indoors as much as possible because of fears of infection.
Everyone has their own ways of dealing with the panic and anxiety that would inevitably surround a global event like this. For some, it involves taking a clear break from the news cycle (and if that’s you, we’ve got your back), while for others, it means staying ahead of the curve. That could involve seeking out books and movies on the very subjects you are being bombarded about with information.
So yes, the pandemic/apocalyptic watchlist has become a thing now. At HuffPost India, we decide to crowdsource a list of movies/TV shows/documentaries on pandemics and virus outbreaks.
Caveat: make sure you’re in the right frame of mind to watch these before you begin.
Pandemic: How To Prevent An Outbreak (Netflix)
This documentary series follows scientists and doctors from across the world looking for ways to stop the next pandemic. One of them says right at the beginning, “When we talk about another flu pandemic happening it’s not a matter of if, but when.” The series follows the lives of these real-life people who are putting their jobs first so that the rest of the world can remain protected from an outbreak like the coronavirus. It highlights the immense hurdles those in medicine and healthcare have to face — lack of funding, anti-vaccine groups, militants burning down health camps, to name a few — to develop vaccines that are effective and to convince people to actually take them. But in the end, it gives us hope to see the people who put their patients, research and work ahead of themselves to save lives.
Here’s what my colleagues watched:
Contagion (Amazon Prime Video)
There’s a reason people are watching this right now and it’s because the film is so rooted in reality, with the stamp of the scientific community’s approval in how it portrays a pandemic. Contagion is the kind of film that makes coughing in public and any open surface where droplets can fall seem life-threatening, as we are witnessing right now. While the virus in the film is nothing like the novel coronavirus (the film’s MEV-1 is much more fatal), the film depicts how political, medical and social systems respond when faced with a new virus. Should you watch this? If you (like me) tend to panic, perhaps skip this one and read the government’s health advisories again so you know you’re as prepared as you can be. If you do watch it, keep in mind that it’s an escalated depiction of fictional events. — Meryl Sebastian
Explained: ‘The Next Pandemic’ (Netflix)
I thought watching this would be an anxiety-inducing exercise but the show, which was filmed way before the novel coronavirus outbreak, focuses on how pandemics occur by charting how SARS started and spread around the globe. The simple, everyday language is actually a great tool to understand why social distancing is so important to contain the current pandemic we’re in. Turns out the episode had just the right amount of information to temper quarantine-induced anxiety, not fuel it. — Nehmat Kaur
Virus (Amazon Prime Video)
This Aashiq Abu-directorial, a gripping medical thriller which sometimes feels like a documentary, now finds place on even international watchlists. The movie, which details Kerala’s inspiring fight against the Nipah virus in 2018, is measured and non-sensationalist, and even though it stars some big names, does not give in to the temptation to display heroism. Reviewing it for HuffPost India, Neelima Menon wrote that the movie “almost allows the reader to travel back in time to experience the tragedy and triumph Kerala experienced in 2018”. If you have been wondering how Kerala has been at the forefront of the fight against coronavirus, this is the film to watch. — Sharanya Hrishikesh
The Host (Netflix)
13 years before Bong Joon-ho wowed the world with Parasite, he made The Host, a critically acclaimed monster movie where a possible viral outbreak is a significant subplot. A few years after an American military pathologist forces his Korean colleague to drop bottles of formaldehyde in the Han river (partly based on true events), a strange creature wreaks havoc in South Korea, killing many people. We follow the action through the story of the Park family, who travel through sewers and risk arrest in search of their plucky child, who has been carried off by the monster. The movie is gross in places, as befits a good creature horror film, and it’s hard to get a grip on what exactly makes the monster tick, but if you have the stomach for it, The Host is worth a watch for Bong’s political commentary on Korea’s relationship with the United States. — Sharanya Hrishikesh