Mar 27, 2020

By Nicole Bitette
A look at things bubbling up in pop culture during the COVID-19 crisis, from the Culture+ team at ViacomCBS.

Culture+ is an editorial series that looks at trending topics and events with an eye towards what they reveal about our shifting culture. The trend this week: levity. With so much chaos (and free time), it seems the digital hive mind is looking for a few laughs.

COVID-19 has stoked global fear and anxiety. Millions of people, accustomed to mingling with coworkers and friends, are being asked to limit their interaction with others. But amid the uncertainty and isolation, there’s an opportunity to find solace in our digital communities.

Which explains why—outside of persistent news streams—the content dominating the culture right now revolves around how we’re finding new ways to connect to one another while we’re physically apart. TikTok dance challenges, HouseParty games, and even endless Zoom meetings are now part of the art of being social while being alone.

Here’s a shortlist of content that defined the zeitgeist amid the first weeks of the coronavirus crisis:

1. Are you working from home with your children or a significant other? You bet there’s a meme for that. Here’s some inspiration for all of the parents with kids home from school—and a laugh about those discovering what type of work person their partner is. Or, check out these memes and TikToks to brighten your day.

2. From The New York Times what to watch, listen to, and cook during quarantine. Yes, Tiger King is on the list. Here are 34 tweets about the popular series and its star, Joe Exotic.

3. Let the penguins bring you joy. This closed aquarium in Chicago allows penguins to roam the grounds and explore the other exhibits.

4. #AloneTogether. We’re all in it together, even if we’re quite possibly at home all alone. ViacomCBS launched a talent-laden PSA campaign in partnership with the AdCouncil and the U.S. Government  urging people to follow CDC guidelines during the coronavirus crisis. . On Friday, Pauly D performed a DJ set from the comfort of his living room for all to tune in on Facebook Live and Trevor Noah may be cozied up on his couch, but he’s still carrying out The Daily Show, though now it’s The Daily Social Distancing Show.

5. We all live in Zoom now. Work meetings? Check. Birthday parties and blind dates? Also check. The activities that once structured our daily lives have moved to the video conferencing service—which had 600,000 downloads on Sunday, March 15 after governments mandated social distancing and stay-at-home orders in response to COVID-19. Need to step up your Zoom game? Try these virtual backgrounds from Behr and West Elm.

6. Take Tom Holland’s advice. If the grocery stores are out of eggs, you could always buy a chicken.

7. In an attempt to bring positivity in the world, Gal Gadot enlisted celebrity help for a cringey rendition of “Imagine.” The internet responded.

8. Who needs yoga when you have Lizzo and J.B. Smoove? These two celebrity-guided meditations can provide a little calm and wellness to your days.

9. The hottest club in the world is… online. D.J. D-Nice hosted a nine-hour long DJ set on Instagram Live attended (virtually) by both celebrities and fans. Now that live shows have been canceled, catch Harry Styles’ NPR Tiny Desk performance, or MTV’s Unplugged at home edition with Wyclef Jean.

10. And finally, a must-listen: The Reply All podcast’s latest episode, “The Case of the Missing Hit.”

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