I’m Isolated for Health, and Addicted to Law & Order Should I be Worried?

By Jane Marla Robbins

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I’m Isolated for Health, and Addicted to <i>Law & Order</i> Should I be Worried?
Photo courtesy of www.dpp-businesstax.com/
When I understood the seriousness of the Coronavirus, I took to my bed. I don’t know how many episodes of Law & Order a person can watch in a day. I haven’t counted. But I’m grateful for the original series and the spinoffs. At least I haven’t been rushing out to get a video, getting sick, and dying. Day and night, even before I go to sleep, I watch the show. A certifiable addict. It’s not just that watching TV is apparently a balm for our brainwaves. It’s the show. People warn me that all the violence, blood, and deaths will give me nightmares. How could these shows help me sleep, they wonder. Not that anyone is sleeping all that well these days, anyway. I’m not alone. It turns out hundreds of us are hunkered down in front of our TVs. Prisoners. And we all feel a little guilty, or embarrassed, or stupid for watching. I’m actually a little shocked and disappointed in myself for not reading well-written novels, or stories, before I go to sleep. Many of the addicts, like me, are single women living alone, possibly lonely, with no man in their bed. But now, in my bedroom, on my 36-inch screen, are men, and a few women, many even in uniform, all “fighting for right.” All smart. All kind. It’s certainly better than sleeping alone (or with someone not smart or kind). And in the news there are, alas, a lot of people not smart, not kind, not fighting for right. I’ve seen so many shows, the cast is now very familiar. Family, you might say. Awake or asleep, it’s good to have family around. It feels like home. Home, where you go to feel safe. And be safe. And loved. And well. In a time of sickness, “well” is good. Plus I love the show’s regulars. I love—how they look and talk and think. Love is healing. Good feelings are healing. Just smiling produces a chemical in our bodies that strengthens our immune systems. So we get stronger when we love. A kind and loving husband might be nice; but in his absence, this seems to be helping. Because now, in the Age of the Coronavirus, the old laws and order of my body and my mind are chaotic. It isn’t easy keeping up with the new Rules of Survival. Stay six feet away from other humans (and we’re pack animals). Learn what to spray, how to spray, and how soon to spray — everything from cardboard, to metal, to vegetables, to ME. And the data keeps changing. When should I wear rubber gloves, when take them off? Where to put them when I do take them off, and where to put the clean gloves so I can remember where they are? Of course I miss the Old Order. I don’t only watch these shows for the company. It’s a way to balance my Life. To heal. So much of what we see outside makes many of us sick. And disgusted. And outraged. These shows may not be everyone’s best road to healing but this seems to work for me. At least in the episodes I see, when people get shot, injured, or sick, they are taken to hospitals and given immediate assistance. Tests. Care. And each show’s DA, ADA, the detectives, the police—they all say what they mean and do what they promise. (Though not always if they’re talking to criminals. Democrats take note.) Who would not want to live in such a parallel universe, where, in practically every episode, Justice and Goodness triumph? Plus, the series is well-written, intelligent. I am hungry for Intelligent. Not an administration that changes its mind from day to day and says inoculating us with disinfectant will get rid of the virus. Not smart. I love that even the old episodes deal with thought-provoking issues that are still relevant. Racism; elder abuse; powerful people who are sure they can get away with the crimes they commit. And on and on. The regulars’ minds are all creative, their sense of humor smart, even ironic or sardonic; their wisdom grounded, or homespun. They all have integrity, moral compasses, unlike what we too often see in the news—senators making illegal millions from the virus, with information they got before the rest of the country. A president letting hospital workers go without masks and protection. How many weeks ago did we hear, “Everybody can get a test!”? And still, not everybody can. Of course I sleep better after watching the shows. I watch their nurses saving lives, instead of real hospital nurses exhausted and in danger; and the bad guys get caught. That’s what I want to see before I go to sleep. So I sleep. I wake. I watch. I sleep. I wake. I watch. I heal. And finally, little by little, I begin to wean myself off the show. I start to write this article. I even write a short poem about the virus, send it to people I know. My articles and poems, I realize, are nothing but my experience put into some kind of Order. People write me that they are comforted by the poem. This comforts me. Maybe most because it makes me feel that I am, in some way, helping other people get through this horrific time, people who, like me, are hungry for more Law and Order. Jane Marla Robbins is an essayist, Los Angeles Times, author of Acting Techniques for Everyday Life and Poems of the Laughing Buddha. The poem mentioned above can be found at JaneMarlaRobbins.com. Jane’s postal address: 20621 Callon Drive, Topanga, CA 90290. 310-455-1579



The sun doesn’t know
there’s a coronavirus.
He shows up daily –
not burning, but smiling,

If you listen, he tells you
he’ll be here tomorrow
and next week
and a thousand years from now.


The mustard flowers on the side of the road
don’t know about it.
It’s only early March and still, a few showers
and they’ve rushed out like an army.
They only wash their hands
of all the panic
and wait for rain.


My neighbors’ bougainvillea flowers
only know the brilliant fuchsia of their faces
which shine in sunlight, mirrors
of our own amazing light.

By Jane Marla Robbins

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August 7, 2020