Even as we saw the thrilling trailer starring COVID 19 playing out in the Chinese metropolis Wuhan, and then coming nearer when the set moved to Italy, we never believed that it would reach us.
But in the blink of an eye, our lives turned into three (or how many is it now?) rollercoaster seasons of lockdown, tragedy, irony, and (often) inescapable boredom confined in our homes. It feels like this series is going to break “Gone in 60 seconds” records in terms of how many seasons are released.
So, we decided to let our imagination run wild with the idea – if each pandemic-driven lockdown in Vienna was a season in a Netflix series, what would it look like?
Season one: COVID-19 in Vienna – Hope Vs the Rise of Darkness
You can imagine the opening scene of the first lockdown in Vienna as a cut-together sequence of empty streets: Mariahilferstraße, Kärntnerstraße, Rathausplatz – all empty. It’s got a sinister Penny Dreadful or The Alienist kind of coloring to it, and a lonely ball of tumbleweed is rolling across the picture (who knows where the tumbleweed came from in the middle of an Alpine country, but it’s there).
The city of cultural abundance sinks into a state of despair as they’re locked into their homes with a new silent and invisible killer enemy creeping silently amidst the streets.
The people of the city are scared and panic. The shop’s shelves are emptied in the first week and toilet paper becomes as valuable as gold.
Not only is the Theater in der Josefstadt – with an audience of 90% high-risk patients – closed, but the whole city is in a state of emergency. The government evokes Marshall law and the scared populace obeys, withdrawing into the safe corners of their homes.
The Viennese existence shrinks to a life of baking banana bread, taking long walks for no apparent reason, and listening to their neighbours argue through the thin Altbauwohnung walls for daily entertainment.
But when all seems lost, a glimmer of good begins to be seen glowing out of the people of the city. For the first time ever, there is an unlikely coming together of people in apartment buildings. The young begin helping their elderly neighbours do the shopping, people are leaving sweet notes in the hallways of their building that let others know that they are there for them if they need anything.
And then, after they’d seen it done in Italy and thought it was a good idea, the people of Vienna began communicating with each other from their balconies.
People clapped together at the same time every day. People that could play an instrument or sing would let their music thang fly from their balconies and windows. Besides the odd Viennese person yelling out of their window for everybody to Gosch´n (!), the infamous Viennese grant had been replaced by a community spirit that brought hope to the city in an hour of darkness.
The series ends with the Viennese emerging from their homes into rays of sunshine full of hope. Summer and the warm temperatures turned out to be the one thing that could beat back the virus. The last scene is some Viennese person on a beach in Greece asking the waiter in their best English for a Spritzer.
Season 2: COVID 19 in Vienna – The Coronavirus strikes back
After a Sound of Music kind of summer of freedom in which the intensive care units in hospitals are empty and the virus seems to be fading into everybody’s distant memory, the first news reports begin to appear – the virus is back. The Coronavirus strikes back with a vengeance, leading the Viennese to retreat once more into their homes.
The city is locked down and the only people that can be seen on the streets are delivery people – who are still leaving notes on doors saying the package could not be delivered because the recipient wasn’t home, even though literally EVERYBODY is home – carrying furniture pieces for those who are taking advantage of being at home by making interior design upgrades in their homes, or Mjam riders delivering pizza to apartments across the city who are all engaged in a Netflix evening… afternoon…or, okay, is it already the next morning?
The climax of the season hits when the government cancels Christmas (ok, they cancel the Christmas markets, not Christmas itself, but it does make for a more dramatic plot) for the first time since the war.
A scandal also erupts when the government allows ski slopes to stay open, which makes no f*** sense when considering all of the other restrictions they’ve put in place on people’s lives.
Season 3: COVID 19 in Vienna – The Epic Battle Begins
The “I’m from Austria” Ohrwurm is playing constantly at the Stadthalle. It is no concert. Concerts haven’t happened here for a long time. The Stadthalle now looks like a dystopian scene with its massive halls filled with people dressed in surgical protective wear shoving sticks up people’s noses and then asking them politely to follow the green or black lines on the floor.
Thanks to this, and what feels like the hundreth statement from Rudi Anschober stating that the “Coronavirus ist nicht vorbei,” the Wiener Grant reachs a new peak.
However, people have grown used to their new lives of clicking and collecting, picking up their take out food or coffee from restaurant windows.
However, the streets become ablaze with rumors that a cure is near. The spark of hope is lit. News reports start talking about a supposed vaccine that will be the savior from the mundane existence that has taken hold of everybody’s lives. The road to freedom becomes visible as the battle between the vaccine and the virus begins. Think of something looking similar to every finale in every Lord of the Rings movie.
It’s at this moment in the plot that everyone would agree it’s a good spot to end the series. The virus is beaten back by the vaccine and the people of Vienna are saved – Yuuhuu!
It’s the point at which even the actors are tired of the season and they’re on the phone to the director, saying – ‘I know it’s tempting, but please don’t go there!’
It’s like this extra season that always ruins the whole saga, because it just wasn’t needed. Everything has to end, just don’t make it Daenerys Tagaryan.
Nevertheless, a season 4 is in the making.
Season 4: COVID 19 in Vienna – New Friends
The epic fight between the vaccine and the virus is still happening and uncertainty still reigns supreme in the city of Vienna. So many things have changed.
The apartments of the city have never been more beautiful, and they are more beautiful than everybody’s mental state will ever be again.
The people of the city are now completely one with their sweatpants, and if they had friends at some point in their lives, they’ve forgotten their names.
Thank god they have new ones. They all have very different personalities: Pfizer is this super cool dude, his name is known and everybody wants him. He’s German, so his popularity is unusual, but what isn’t unusual these days.
Moderna is shy, and you barely even notice they’re around. And then there’s Astra – the media make him out to be the bad guy. He wants to be helpful, but most of the time it just ends in chaos. And don’t let us get started on Sputnik – he’s a rebel from Russia that everybody is suspicious of.
But the epic drama that everybody thought would play out in one epic season has become something resembling a Spanish soap opera – never-ending, full of drama and nobody knows anymore after all the plot twists and affairs what the hell is going on.