Lest you thought there was no one left on the planet untouched by news of covid-19, allow me to tell you about the contestants of the reality show Big Brother, who are apparently sitting in a hot tub in Cologne, Germany as we speak, totally unaware that any of this is happening.
According to the Guardian, the majority of the housemates have been in isolation since February 6, back when the coronavirus crisis was still largely contained to Wuhan. The only time since then that the outside world has punctured their existence was when four more housemates were introduced on March 6:
The show’s producers, for the TV channel Sat.1, defended the decision not to update the housemates on the crisis going on in the outside world, telling the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that the information blackout would only be lifted in certain circumstances, such as a family member’s illness. They also pointed to “special hygiene measures” taken to protect residents themselves from infection, though did not explain what those measures entailed.
But after uproar on social media, Sat.1 changed its position – and announced a live special episode, due to air before the regular slot at 7pm on Tuesday evening, in which the housemates will be told of the growing crisis. They will be given the opportunity to ask questions about the state of the nation, as well as receive video messages from their relatives.
I think I would definitely be pissed if a global pandemic erupted while I was frittering away my time smoking cigarettes and side-eyeing my housemates. Or would I? On the other hand, they’re presumably safe in their hermetically sealed TV set, free to engage in petty squabbles while the rest of us frantically wash away our hand skin and struggle to remember the outdoors. What a luxury.