The greatest threat to the human race has always been our own bodies.

Our vulnerability to infectious diseases has caused the greatest calamities in recorded history, from the Black Plague to the astounding threat still posed by the common flu. But behind each health catastrophe is a story of blind greed or hubris, with humans spreading diseases due to rampant consumption, ecological destruction, or just plain ol' bureaucracy. Such is the case with the coronavirus, which, despite emerging in humans only recently, has made historic disruptions to everyday life. The World Health Organization recently declared the virus a pandemic, in addition to being a global emergency.

Luckily, we have movies to turn to in times like these to educate us on how to survive (and prevent) a global pandemic. So what can we learn from virus outbreak movies?

1. Contagion

Contagion is an especially relevant thriller that follows the global spread of a deadly virus, along with researchers' attempts to contain and cure the disease. As the plot progresses across several lines of perspective, we witness the mass social disorder caused by the pandemic.

But the real twist comes at the end, when we see the virus' source [SPOILER]: A bulldozer plows through a Chinese jungle, which disturbs a bat that infects a pig, which is then handled by a chef who doesn't wash his hands before shaking hands with Gwyneth Paltrow, who is Patient 0. So the lesson here is that the virus is entirely humans' fault for engaging in deforestation, and also wash your f*cking hands.

TV Features

How TV's "Good Cops" Promote Dangerous Narratives About Real-Life Police

Shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine make cops seem harmless, an illusion tainted with centuries of racism.

Two summers ago, during one of the darkest periods in my personal life, I found solace in Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a sitcom that stars Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta, an NYPD detective with an impressive track record of solved cases despite his goofy, unsophisticated demeanor. Since its premiere in 2013, the show has been commended for its representation of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC people; the recurring cast includes two very smart (and never overtly sexualized) Latina women, as well as two Black men in the precinct's top roles. In 2018, the show received a GLAAD Media Award for its depiction of queer characters. Throughout its seven seasons, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has addressed serious issues like workplace sexual harassment, reconciling with an absent parent, and coming out to disapproving family members, all while retaining a sharp, tasteful sense of silly humor. Rotten Tomatoes has given multiple seasons of Brooklyn Nine-Nine a perfect 100% rating, likening it to "comfort food."

Keep Reading Show less