COVID-19 in Fictional Storylines

Junior Mary Austin has been following the new twist in her favorite ABC show, “Grey’s Anatomy,” in which lead actor Ellen Pompeo, who plays Meredith Grey, is hospitalized with COVID-19.

“I felt appreciative when ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ incorporated the pandemic in their storyline because the directors could’ve easily ignored it,” said Austin. “It made watching more enjoyable because I could relate to a relevant storyline given these troubling times.”

Some fictional shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “This Is Us” have decided to incorporate COVID-19 into their plots when they returned to screens in the fall. According to CNN, executive producers and writers have been debating these questions since last year, when scripted shows began returning from pandemic delays.

Show runners told CNN that determining months in advance what viewers would want to see was a challenge.

According to, “Grey’s Anatomy” has focused on how COVID-19 is affecting medical professionals, patients and their families.

“Grey’s has done a great job showing what COVID is like in a hospital setting, and I like how it fits well with the show to portray such a huge medical story in our society,” said freshman Kaitlyn Schoen.

According to, “Grey’s Anatomy” is ABC’s highest-rated drama and one of the most-viewed shows broadcasted on television.

Other students also said they enjoy the implementation of COVID-19 stories in some of their other favorite shows.

“I watch ‘This is Us,’ and I think that it’s comforting to see characters in my favorite show living with COVID and I feel it sets a good example,” said freshman Ciara Doyle.

Some actors of these shows have spoken to the media about portraying COVID-19 in their acting.

Sterling K. Brown, who plays Randall Pearson on “This Is Us,” told that they are not abandoning the storyline in any way but adapting in the same way that the world has had to adapt to what has transpired.

“Now the Pearson’s are also dealing with things that the world is dealing with, which is a strong message,” said Brown, according to

On the other hand, some students say they do not like how their favorite shows choose to incorporate COVID-19 into the plot.

“I was slightly annoyed when I saw the pandemic was portrayed in Grey’s, not because they portrayed it wrong, but because I watch the show to escape reality and now watching it is no longer an escape from the pandemic,” said sophomore Ellie Kiernan.

Similarly, sophomore Alexandra Botto says that she wishes her favorite show chose not to portray COVID-19 in its storyline.

“‘This Is Us’ is one of my favorite shows and I watch it to escape the real world, and now there is no escaping when I am reminded of the pandemic,” said Botto.

According to, some viewers wish their favorite shows had left COVID-19 out of the plot because watching these events on TV has been difficult and upsetting, especially if they have been personally affected or know someone affected by COVID-19.

Nonetheless, some students feel that it is important for shows to include the reality of COVID-19 in their storylines.

“I think it’s important for shows to showcase the pandemic because the large audiences that watch can understand more about how real it is and what we are living through,” said senior Hunter Adams.

Some students have found that watching COVID-19 on TV has given them advice on how to deal with this challenging time.

“Although fictional, a TV series can have a heavy influence on its audience,” said Austin. “Watching the pandemic on TV does not only reassure its audience that everyone is modifying their life due to COVID, but some shows have even given me good advice on how to remain mentally healthy during this time of change.”

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