Meet the Villareal family. They’ve come together to pay their respects to their patriarch who has just died. The only thing is, because of the pandemic, the family is gathering online for a virtual funeral. Not being in the same room with one another, however, doesn’t mean personalities won’t clash.
That’s the set up for the second episode of Netflix’s new 8-part anthology Social Distance. The upcoming series, which debuts October 15, was shot remotely with actors during the pandemic.
“Social Distance is a show about people struggling to stay connected with each other,” creator and executive producer Hilary Weisman Graham told Entertainment Weekly last month. “Like most of us, being online … is often the only way to keep in touch with family and friends while sheltering in place.”
At the beginning of episode 2, which is a brisk 17 minutes long, the camera pans out to reveal a portrait of the late Julio Villareal sitting beside an urn. Julio’s son Miguel (Oscar Nuñez from TV’s The Office) asks his two daughters Paola (Camila Perez) and Olivia (Gianna Argon), who are at their mother’s house, if the angle of their grandfather’s urn looks good from their computer. Then, the two girls start practicing a song they plan on playing on recorders for the services – Celia Cruz’s “La Vida Es Un Carnaval.”
Soon, the rest of the Villareal family log on the Zoom call, including Miguel’s sister Reina (Daphne Rubin-Vega) and her family, Tío Tony (Miguel Sandoval), who can’t figure out how to unmute his computer, and Miguel’s brother Santiago (Guillermo Díaz) whose first words to the family are, “Hey, who died?”
“I knew this was a bad idea,” Reina says.
Darkly funny and heartfelt, episode 2 of Social Distance is a great start to a series that somehow found a way to exist during such an unexpected year.