NBC’s Connecting… only had two ways to go in the “Pilot,” if you ask me. It could be a tone-deaf disaster trying to capitalize on a pandemic that we’re still very much in the middle of, or it could be a heartwarming reminder that one of the most important things, especially in a world where we don’t get to physically be with the ones we love as much as we would want to anymore, is the connections we do have, and what we do to keep those going.
Color me surprised to report that, in my humble opinion, it comes much closer to the second option than I would have thought it could.
If I’m even here, reviewing Connecting…’s “Pilot,” if I decided to give the show a chance, it’s not merely because quarantine means I didn’t have as many choices as I usually do, but also because when you give me this diverse a cast, you at least get my attention. And this is a diverse cast, one which includes Otmara Marrero, Parvesh Cheena, Shakina Nayfack, Preacher Lawson, Ely Henry, Jill Knox and Keith Powell.
Surprisingly so, that wasn’t the only positive, for me. The entire tone of the episode – which is basically a conversation between friends – worked perfectly, from Annie’s crush, to very, very timely connection issues saving her from Ben learning about her real feelings, to the moment where they have to confront the reality of what’s going on, not only in their quarantine lives, but in the world at large, via the one friend who is in the middle of the pandemic.
This last moment, in particular, gave the show a gravitas I didn’t think I wanted it to have, but that I actually needed for it to feel tethered to reality. Yes, I watch TV to escape, but I don’t want TV to ignore the world I’m living in, either. If they’re gonna go in, they might as well do it without ignoring reality.
Still, my first choice would have been to not have to watch many shows like this. At this it’s a bit too triggering to be watching stuff on TV that I regularly have to do to, you know, keep in touch with the people I love. It’s not funny to see them talk over each other or hide in closets or even drop and them come back to the call wondering what they’ve missed.
It’s just …life. For all of us.
Not a total win, but not a complete loss either. And hey, we are in quarantine, and most of our regular shows still aren’t back. So, if you’re wondering if this is just going to depress you, the answer is no. You can give it a try. As long as you know that it is going to depress you a bit, but then again, what doesn’t these days, right?