Scott D. Pierce: ‘Love in the Time of Corona’ is not what you want to watch during a pandemic

(Photo courtesy of Freeform) Leslie Odom Jr. and Nicolette Robinson work from home in "Love in the Time of Corona."

Someday, somebody is going to make a really good TV show that beautifully encapsulates what life is like during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Freeform’s “Love in the Time of Corona” isn’t it.

Oh, the four-part, 4½-hour show isn’t terrible. But — despite the fact that the whole pandemic thing is still relatively new — there’s nothing here. Nothing unexpected. It feels like it was built out of spare parts left over from umpteen other productions.

How “Love in the Time of Corona” was made is far more interesting than what was made. And that’s never a good thing.

The two-night “event” (Saturday and Sunday, 8 p.m., Freeform) offers up four largely separate but somewhat interconnected stories:

• Married couple James (Leslie Odom Jr.) and Sade (Nicollete Robinson) suddenly find themselves spending a lot of time together now that his constant work travel is suspended. And they start talking about having another baby.

• Paul (Gil Bellows) and Sarah (Rya Kihlstedt) are quarantined with their 19-year-old daughter, Sophie (Ava Bellows), who doesn’t know that her parents’ marriage is falling apart.

• Nanda (L. Scott Caldwell) tries to plan a party to celebrate her anniversary while video chatting with her husband, Charlies (Charlie Robinson), who’s in a nursing home — and his memory is failing.

This image released by Freeform shows Tommy Dorfman, left, and Rainey Qualley in a scene from "Love in the Time of Corona," a two-part series airing Aug.22-23 on Freeform. (Freeform via AP)

• Roommates Oscar (Tommy Dorfman) and Elle (Rainey Qualley) are a younger version of Will & Grace. Elle wants nothing more than a relationship with Oscar, even though he’s nonbinary/gay. Oscar meets a guy, Dylan (Bryan Lillis) online, and there’s a hot, straight guy, Adam (Emilio Garcia-Sanchez), next door — but, again, Elle is obsessed with Oscar.

The four hours were shot using remote technologies and social distancing. Odom and Robinson are married in real life; their scenes were filmed in their home. Gil Bellows and Kihlstedt are also married; Ava Bellows is their daughter; they filmed their scenes in their home. Dorfman and Qualley are real-life friends; their scenes were shot in a third home.

When other characters appear, they’re either online or the actors who play them are distanced.

That’s relatively interesting. The stories … not so much. Paul and Sarah are caught in some sort of weird “Parent Trap.” Oscar and Elle make the same mistake we’ve seen umpteen other gay-straight friends make. And the narrative reaches to be Something Really Important when James reacts to the real-life killing of Ahmaud Arbery, but somehow manages to trivialize it with a plot development we’ve seen — you guess it! — umpteen times before.

Again, it’s not terrible. But do we really need a mediocre show about people trapped at home by the pandemic while we’re trapped at home by the pandemic?


Part 1 of “Love in the Time of Corona” airs Saturday 8-8:37; Part 1 is Saturday 8:37-9:13 p.m.; Part 3 is Sunday 8-8:40 p.m.; Part 4 is Sunday 8:40-9:25 p.m. Episodes will stream a day after their Freeform debut on Hulu.

COMING SOON • By the way, we might not have to wait long for a really good TV show about people social distancing during the pandemic. HBO’s “Coastal Elites” — written by Paul Rudnick and featuring Bette Midler, Issa Rae, Dan Levy, Sarah Paulson and Kaitlyn Dever — airs Sept. 12.

We haven’t seen a completed version yet, but the clips are very promising. And a recent online interview with all the principals made me anxious to see more.

“LUCIFER” IS BACK • Season 5 of this series — which Fox canceled and Netflix saved — starts streaming Friday. And it’s more of the same. Lucifer (Tom Ellis) left hell, bought a nightclub and helps LAPD detective Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve murders.

Well, Ellis does do double duty as Lucifer’s twin brother, Michael.

The mysteries aren’t that great, but they aren’t the reason to watch “Lucifer.” This show is all about the characters and their chemistry. Oh, and the fact that Ellis is so hunky.

Fans will be pleased.

(Netflix will release the first half of Season 5 — eight episodes — on Friday. The second batch of eight episodes will stream at a later date TBA. “Lucifer” has been renewed for a sixth and final season.)

QUICK REVIEW • Netflix also starts streaming its new adult animated series, “Hoops,” on Friday. It’s about an inept, foul-mouthed high school basketball coach (voiced by Jake Johnson) and the angsty kids he coaches.

To sum this up in four words: It’s bad. Don’t bother.