Freeform’s “Love in The Time of Corona” cast may have filmed the most timely and relevant series to date – all from the confines of their own homes.
Shot and produced during the Stay-at-home order earlier this year, the two-part limited series follows four inter-woven stories involving connection, the climate during the Black Lives Matter movement, and the many challenges faced during the quarantine.
I virtually sat down with co-executive producers and real-life partners, Leslie Odom Jr. (Oscar) and Nicolette Robinson (Sade) who also star in the series as husband and wife. The couple reflected on the intimate process of “working from home” – a phrase all too many can relate to and one that takes on a new meaning in the series.
“There was [some] hesitation which is why we just wanted to make sure that the story felt like it was doing it’s best to stand on its tiptoes to rise to meet this moment, to meet the moment that’s happening in our homes and the streets,” Odom Jr. states before continuing. “It was an experiment…. it was risky that it might not work out, so what was going to make us try our best…. and be comfortable with taking that small risk was the fact that we felt like this was a story that ought to be told right now.”
“Love in The Time of Corona” speaks to the audience from a place of intimacy and highlights the importance of human connection. “What was special for us in this [series] was our ability to really dive deeper into our relationship and reconnect and really learn more about one another… it was almost like a light switch went on in the way that we communicate….we were really excited to utilize this newness that we discovered with our relationship and try working together now with a new level of connection, Robinson says with a grin. “It was cool!”
Equal parts intimate, intriguing, and innovative, the series also touches on incidents of police brutality that have resulted in the senseless murder of the many members of the black community and the push for the Black Lives Matter initiative. “[Nicolette and I] can’t be apart of anything right now that does not address what’s happening in the streets because art is political and when you’re not talking about it you’re shying away from is a political statement, Odom Jr. says. “We needed it to be included full stop if we were gonna be apart of it and Freeform welcomed it.
In bringing the reality of the country’s current climate to the forefront, Freeform’s latest series also showcases the actualities for those stuck at home during the stay-at-home order and its effect on their relationships. Tommy Dorfman (Oscar) and Rainey Qualley (Elle) play besties and platonic roommates who virtually expand on their search for love while their friendship seemingly evolves into something more. While that kind of situation can often be awkward, Dorfman says “it’s always worth exploring.”
“If you’re two single people and you’re struggling to find love the reality is it might be right in front of you,” Dorfman says thoughtfully. “Even if it’s someone of a different gender than you would typically be attracted to, sometimes just as a person you have a soul connection that makes the other stuff not matter as much.”
“I think what’s really great about the story is that it’s really about connections and love and the relationships with the backdrop of being in the pandemic”, Qualley says with a smile. “It’s about humanity.”
“Love in The Time of Corona” takes a look at the human experience and relationships through a realistic lens. The series even highlights parts of certain relationships that can be heartbreaking and often challenging giving the stay-at-home-order. Real-life husband and wife, Gil Bellows (Paul), Rya Kihlstedt (Sarah), and daughter, Ava Bellows (Sophie) also star in the series as a family unit, only playing the role of co-parenting singles who haven’t yet told their daughter of their decision to separate.
For Ava, the script brought, “lots layers of very different kinds of excitement that still haven’t gone away.” Gushing over her first official leading role, Ava states, “getting the script was great and really exciting to get to see all of the stuff I was going to get to do with my parents, and I was just so excited to be able to work on a project that I felt like was as of the moment and loving as this show is.”
“In this really complicated crazy time a job shows us in front us that we get to work, we get to work together, and we get to work at home, Kihlstedt says sharing a smile with her daughter before continuing to say; “we feel so blessed about it”.
Revealing that this series was on the of the first projects to shoot during the COVID pandemic, Gil Bellows adds that “to see what the practical realities and challenges were that come with that and to overcome them with people creativity” was “very rewarding.”
Also finding the production of the series rewarding is L. Scott Caldwell (Nanda), whose character represents an often overlooked and important senior love story. While planning her 50th wedding anniversary through virtual video calls with her husband, Nanda struggles with the challenges of coping with the distance.
“The fact that that [this series] has the elements of the other half of the love story being in a nursing facility is very timely because the nursing facilities have been so impacted by this virus,” Caldwell states. “‘Love in The Time of Corona’ gives us a little bit of that storytelling…. [it’s] so important on a national level that we see some of what these families are going through separated from their loved ones in that way.”
You too can get into the most relevant series of the year by tuning into Freeform on Saturday, August 22nd at 8 p.m. EST/PST and continuing Sunday, August 23rd at 8 p.m. EST/PST.