A new Netflix documentary called Coronavirus, Explained has won plaudits for its educational yet non-alarmist style, as it spotlights the global spread of the illness.
The current spread of coronavirus we’re all facing right now is shrouded in a sea of unknowns. Should we wear face masks in public? Are care homes getting the critical support they need? How will we ever pave a way out of lockdown?
No one has a clear answer to these dilemmas, and wild speculation about cures or ways out – looking at you, Donald Trump – only makes the situation worse. What we need is digestible facts, alongside scientific wisdom that acknowledges the many grey areas of the outbreak.
That’s where a new Netflix mini-series comes in. Coronavirus, Explained is already racking up praise on Twitter for its clear and honest style of documentary storytelling. Here’s everything you need to know:
What is Coronavirus, Explained?
Coronavirus, Explained is a new mini-season from the producers of Netflix’s Explained franchise. The critically-acclaimed series takes a forensic look at various issues of the modern age, and breaks them down using a combination of animation, scientific data and expert insight.
Even before the outbreak of coronavirus in January this year, researchers from the show had been working on an episode about a global health pandemic. This uncanny timing meant they were able to quickly roll out a new mini-series devoted entirely to the coronavirus outbreak.
Working in tandem with the news site Vox, they have combined archive interviews with new developments to examine exactly how Covid-19 became the world’s worst pandemic in recent history.
Is there a trailer for Coronavirus, Explained?
There sure is, and it gives a good taste of the documentary’s forensic, non-glorified approach to storytelling. Take a look, below.
Why should I watch Coronavirus, Explained?
It’s hardly like we’re short on coronavirus news right now, but general opinion seems to be that Coronavirus, Explained stands in a league of its own. For starters, it presents the facts in a way that is easy to digest but also non-alarmist.
Amid the slew of fake news and catastrophisation surrounding coronavirus, this is a documentary that cuts through the noise. It doesn’t pander to fearful narrative, as the tweet above suggests, but neither does it downplay the threat.
The first episode features an interview with Bill Gates, whose foundation has worked extensively on pandemic prevention, along with other heavyweights from the world of scientific and public health research. In other words, it’s a shortcut to educating yourself on the background of the virus.
At the same time, this is a fast-moving and uncertain situation we’re all in; and Coronavirus, Explained is entirely honest about the things it doesn’t yet know. It doesn’t pretend to have answers on everything.
“Something we talk about internally is what we’re often doing is explaining the state of knowledge on something,” the show’s executive producer and Vox founder Ezra Klein tells Hollywood Reporter. “Sometimes the explanation that you can give people that helps them understand why, say, public health authorities or politicians are doing what they’re doing is to show them that this is where the knowledge stops, and after this it becomes guesswork.”
Will the documentary make me feel more anxious?
This all depends on how you manage anxious feelings. If you’re at the point of coronavirus overload and feel clammy just at the thought of taking an indepth look at the spread of coronavirus, this probably isn’t for you (check out these uplifting shows for armchair escapism instead).
On the other hand, the mini-season may actually serve to calm you down, with a lucid and low-key look at the facts. There’s no drama here (we can all agree we’ve had enough of that recently): instead, it presents the science as we know it. And there’s reassurance that comes with arming yourself with the facts, as opposed to getting lost in a slew of hysterical rumours. So really, it’s a judgement call for you.
Where can I watch Coronavirus, Explained?
The first episode of Coronavirus, Explained was released this weekend (26 April) with two more to follow later this summer. While the programme available now looks at how a novel coronavirus became a global pandemic, the next two instalments of the mini-season will focus on the vaccine development and how people are coping with the current situation. Watch the first episode on Netflix now.