Opening with the announcement that this episode takes place on March 29th 2020, before any of the characters of this sitcom are introduced we’re given a quick exposition dump featuring archive news footage which informs us that thanks to the Coronavirus everyone in the US is under shut down. All of which means the whole show revolves around Zoom chats between a group of very different friends, all of whom are presumably quite wealthy thanks to their high definition webcams.
Initially it’s just a chat between Ben (Preacher Lawson) and Annie (Otmara Marrero) and it’s a mixture of rambling conversation about their boring lives, moaning about the situation they’re in (despite only being quarantined for two weeks) and the odd pop culture reference, but over the course of the episode they’re joined by Pradeep (Parvesh Cheena) who mostly complains about having to spend all of his time with his kids, Ellis (Shakina Nayfack) who is un-hilariously struggling because the NBA is not coming back this year, wacky Rufus (Ely Henry) who insists on wearing a mask indoors and is a oddball conspiracy theorist type, loving couple Garrett (Keith Powell) and Michelle (Jill Knox) who think “Quarantine is super dope” and finally their Doctor friend Jasmine.
Jasmine’s entrance is heralded by some tacky music and she launches in to a big important speech about the horrors of coping with the coronavirus as a medical professional, all of which I’m sure is absolutely true and if anything the real world may have been far worse, but it feels forced, like they felt they must have a serious point making moment, and it goes on for too long. Worst of all is that it’s then undercut by a joke about how Jasmine is missing her local sports team as well, a very weak callback to Ellis’s situation, and it’s a poor gag indeed.
And that’s the problem with much of the material here. There’s been a lot of discussion online and in podcasts as to whether audiences want to hear jokes about the pandemic or just want to forget about it, and that’s going to differ from person to person (and I find myself preferring not too, wanting escapism from my comedy), but if there is to be comedy about the situation than it really needs to be very funny and very smart, and this simply isn’t, there wasn’t a single line or moment in the entire episode that made me laugh.
It’s essentially a friends hang out sitcom with a will they / won’t they subplot tacked on, and given the large cast and how they pop in and out of the zoom chat the set up allows for minor dramatic moments too, with Ben’s connection dropping rather conveniently the moment Jasmine mentions that Annie loves him. So despite not being a huge fan of it the format isn’t the issue, as it is a show which could be funny, could be intriguing, but it just isn’t because these characters are largely mundane, a couple are even slightly irritating, and none of them say anything even vaguely amusing. If you are going to make a show like this you need to make sure the characters who feature are pretty bloody special, but that’s sadly not the case, and due to that I’d be amazed if Connecting… ever becomes even vaguely watchable.