Top 10 of 2020: COVID Adaptations


Due to COVID-19, John Oliver hosted the entirety of season six of his late night show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, in a blank white void. This adjustment to his setup has only enhanced the powerful message the episodes have to offer, making it a successful COVID adaptation.

Robert Stotz, Staff Writer

10 – Not the NFL
There are a lot of things the National Football League is good at, and doing a poor job social distancing is definitely one of them. By the end of the regular season, all 32 teams had at least one case of COVID, many of which resulting in the postponement of one or more games in the already shortened schedule. In addition to putting the players at risk, these games brought in a number of staff members who are also exposed to the same conditions. It is for these reasons that the NFL did not earn the number 10 spot on this list.

9 – Jimmy Fallon
Among the numerous talk show hosts out there, the setup of “The Late Night Show with Jimmy Fallon,” seemed to stand out. Like most transitioning from COVID, Fallon was forced to record his show from his home, exposing his viewers to a far more personal part of his life. The experience of seeing Fallon in his element, even if that meant slightly poorer audio and no more in-person guests, made the news he reported and his takeaway that much more impactful.

8 – YouTubers and Streamers
For everyone who’s not attending TJ, the past year has offered some extra free time for them to spend how they wish. This funded the audiences for a variety of YouTubers and streamers, leading to the revitalization of many classic games such as Minecraft or virtual chess. With these content creators featuring such games, both the popularity and player base have seen an increase in the past year.

7 – Party Video games
In addition to individual content creators and old classics, a new breed of video game has seen a higher popularity this past year; party games. During a time of social distancing, these games could facilitate the same environment that was lost with the pandemic. Games such as Among Us, Fall Guys, and Jackbox Party Pack have each popularized a far more social way to game.

6 – Contactless Food
During this time of social distancing, all restaurants were forced to restrict in-person dining to almost a minimum. This change of dining style put a heavy significance on both delivery and drive thru services, both of which needed changes in format in order to become completely contactless. This change, as insignificant as it may seem, allowed for millions of people to stay safe and avoid any additional threat to their health.

5 – Disney Plus
The original idea of Disney Plus, even before the pandemic, was already insanely popular. Now, being the only platform with new Disney releases, it has become a powerhouse of a streaming service. By making it the go-to for Disney movies, in addition to the specialized release of Hamilton, it has adjusted its format to benefit those at home.

4 – John Krasinski; Some Good News
Similarly to Jimmy Fallon, John Krasinski hosted his own talk show during the pandemic. What made it more appealing was the fact that it came out of nowhere, and only focused on the good things. The premise of the show was to spread joy, whether it be focusing on cheery stories in the world, or making dreams come true. This mindset was a much needed contrast to the average coverage of a late show, expanding the scope of talks shows as a whole.

3 – The NBA Bubble
Unlike the NFL, the National Basketball Association managed to keep a majority of its athletes safe while still playing the game. During their time in The Bubble, each team played four and a half times as many games as a single football team, and yet both the number of players and postponed games were far less than that of the NFL.

For the players themselves, their life must feel like something straight out of a discount sports movie. ‘32 basketball teams enter “The NBA Bubble” to battle it out in a 100 day contest to declare the league champion. No one goes in or out until a winner is crowned. Also it’s in Disney World for some reason.’ As crazy as it sounds when put out of context, it seemed to have gotten the job done, keeping the games going, and keeping the players safe.

2 – Glass Animals
Regarding public knowledge, this is probably the most obscure group on the list. That being said, what they have been able to pull off this past year has been exceptional. Glass Animals is a British band formed way back in 2012, their most recent album Dreamland being the focus of this list. The inspiration for many of the songs on the album originated from the near death experience the band’s drummer faced in July of 2018, and how it affected the other members of the band. Already coming from a hard place, the news of the pandemic only added to the weight each song carried as they were written. Finally, on August 7th of 2020, just under four years after their last album was released, Dreamland had finally become a reality. It quickly took countries by storm, reaching US top 10 lists in a matter of weeks.

But their abilities don’t end there. Since the album’s debut, music videos for three of the most popular songs have been released, with more suspected to come. Although under the restrictions of social distancing, they have still managed to create meaningful works of art that illustrate the depth of each and every featured song. The fact that this can be achieved when the lead singer plays all three roles in the video highlights the creativity that the band possesses.

1 – John Oliver
For our final talk show entry into the list, we look at British comedian, and host of Emmy winning talk show “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” John Oliver. Now, the question may be, ‘what makes this white man talking about the news stand out from all the other white men talking about the news?’ Well, if there was anything to take away from his show, it would be his unusual setup. All 26 episodes filmed during the pandemic have been him, sitting at his desk talking about the news, in a blank white void.

This void was more than just a simple backdrop meant to shed light on the issues at hand. It acted as filler for the would-be-laughter following every joke. It added the overwhelming silence that any hard hitting story on the show deserved. It was the butt of every episode’s intro joke on how the presence of the void was not unlike *insert silly scenario*. It was this versatility of character that the void possessed that elevated the show to the status that it rightfully deserved. That is, until John Oliver, upset with the change of spotlight, revealed at the end of the season that the void had actually been a giant ‘2020’ all along, and blew it up using a Jeopardy! -esque buzzer detonator.

The show also happened to have extremely powerful writing and messaging, and used its wide platform to shed light on smaller but nevertheless important issues going on around the world. But the void was still cool.