What the world needs right now is another endless musing on staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic; the C.D.C. has declared these pieces to be a symptom of COVID-19 that can be treated only by gentle snoring. When I am not working at my job as an associate buyer in juniors’ activewear, I moonlight as America’s most beloved film critic. But, with so little fresh product, even the most esteemed reviewers, like me, are in a quandary, which is why you’re seeing so many Top Ten lists of foreign sci-fi movies from 1962. So, as a public service, I’d like to provide the only tips you really need:
1. Study Ivanka’s tweets. So far, she’s advised us to build living-room forts, have fun with eighteenth-century shadow puppets, and continually praise her for using the words “jobs,” “empower,” and “me.” While I consider myself to be proudly useless and self-involved, Ivanka puts me to shame. I’ve been monitoring her hair, which resembles the entire L’Oréal color wheel; her heavy Benjamin Moore-grade makeup; and her always inappropriate wardrobe of Amish cocktail dresses. It’s as if her dream were to become a society-lady panelist on “What’s My Line?” in 1958. When she speaks, in her breathy Tweety Bird-at-boarding-school burble, the effect is complete. She’s an American Girl doll with a trust fund and a Gucci attaché case.
2. Watch Dad TV. These are the shows that your dad relishes from his recliner and discusses at length over dinner, as if he were a consultant. They might as well all be called “Law & Order: Your Dad.” Dick Wolf is your dad’s Hugh Hefner. My favorites include “FBI,” in which a team of attractive agents solves upscale crimes in under an hour, led by Missy Peregrym, whose hair is yanked back to look professional and yet is highlighted because she’s on TV. “FBI: Most Wanted” depicts grimmer crimes in bleak suburban neighborhoods with terrible lighting. (Bad lighting and cheap flannel shirts have been identified as the chief causes of the opioid epidemic.)
The Mom versions of these shows are medical soaps. I enjoy “The Resident,” in which an attractive team of Atlanta doctors cures just about everything in forty-five minutes, led by hunky Matt Czuchry in fitted scrubs and a motorcycle jacket, coupled up with the gorgeous Emily VanCamp as ultra-nurse Nic. When this dreamy pair saunter into the E.R., everyone sighs, “Thank God! The hot blonds are here.” “New Amsterdam” is a teensy bit grittier, because it’s set in New York, and it has an attractive medical team (including a gay psychologist), led by Ryan Eggold, who can remove tumors just by tilting his head like an adorable puppy.
Warning: Don’t watch these shows with a real doctor, lawyer, or police officer, because they’ll start screaming.
3. Never watch Trump’s press briefings. They’re unthinkably dull. Instead, catch the CNN clips of the President losing it, and then check Breitbart for the denials of everything he just said on camera. For a drinking game, take a sip whenever Trump calls a female journalist “nasty” or a male journalist “a loser.”And, while it’s fun to track Dr. Deborah Birx’s infinite scarf collection, her masochism is voluntary and deadening. Dr. Anthony Fauci is the only hero here, but I wish, while Trump is blathering, that Fauci would mime silently screaming.
4. Watch your local news. Notice which at-home anchors have plastic orchids on their bookcases filled with paperbacks from college. Observe, “Oh, he lives in Westchester—that’s why he’s got a fire pit out the window, and a framed photo of his first wife and their kids.”
5. When you put on your mask and gloves to go to Whole Foods, pretend you’re a neurosurgeon. Ask your spouse to assist, to make the first incision, and to close up the patient. It’s fun to do this in the produce aisle, using a head of lettuce.
6. Make no attempt to rediscover the joy of family meals. My perfect daughter, Jennifer, who’s home from college, just told me, “Your generation not only decimated the planet but has made my future an economic quagmire. So I need eleven hundred dollars for this cute top made from recycled scrunchies that I saw on Etsy, and they donate three dollars from every purchase to buy smoothies for people who look sad and thoughtful on Instagram.” My middle schooler, Sean, posted a TikTok, wearing my yoga pants and Chanel warmup jacket and doing a dance he calls Spin Mom on a Bender. My husband, Josh, who’s home because orthodontics is considered elective medicine, is writing a novel called “Brace Yourself,” which he calls “a no-holds-barred thriller about a rugged midtown orthodontist who saves the world by solving the ancient mystery of a pharaoh’s overbite and defeating his modern-day death cult with the help of a gorgeous French dental hygienist.” So we’ve all agreed to pretend that we’re by ourselves in the apartment, while I scroll through photos of Melania planting a tree on the White House lawn to commemorate Earth Day, wearing a Victoria Beckham trenchcoat and Manolos, which is her way of declaring, “We’re all in this together,” if you ask me. ♦
A Guide to the Coronavirus