‘Platonic’ Features the Low-Key Darkest Joke of Any Comedy So Far This Year
The new AppleTV+ series Platonic is an amiable, easy-to-watch comedy starring Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne as former best buddies who reconnect later in life. Byrne is charming, and Rogen stretches his acting muscles by playing a beer guy instead of a weed guy, but this is, by design, pretty fluffy material.
That said, despite its harmless appeal, one scene in Platonic is, upon closer examination, shockingly grim.
The show’s second episode finds Byrne’s character Sylvia house-hunting with Will (Rogen) coming along for fun. The only spacious property her family of five can afford turns out to be a former assisted living facility that “closed after COVID.”
Once they inspect the property, Will makes multiple jokes about how many people have died in the former nursing home — and there are multiple suggestions that the building is actively haunted by the ghosts of its former inhabitants.
It’s a funny scene, but for a lighthearted, rom-com-esque series, this is some pretty dark subject matter to joke about. The show isn’t just showing us a randomly spooky house completely bereft of context; Sylvia specifically calls out the fact that the facility shut as a result of the pandemic, which touches on a huge real-world problem. A ton of nursing homes really did close because of COVID, causing a shortage that health experts are currently calling a “crisis.”
As for the deaths Will alludes to, yeah, people presumably die in nursing homes all the time, but a staggering, truly awful number of people died in assisted living facilities during the pandemic. According to some reports, around a third of COVID deaths were in nursing homes. Which is so depressing that we’re including this adorable video of a puppy riding a rooster as a palate cleanser:
This isn’t to say that Platonic, or any other show, can’t use the idea of a shuttered, potentially haunted nursing home to comedic effect, but mining this specifically tragic situation for a handful of throwaway real-estate jokes in a sitcom seems a tad iffy. There’s a reason why Norm from Cheers never compared his thirst for beer to, like, the Challenger explosion.
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