My pick for Fandango’s Who Won the Week is Rachel Maddow, a prime-time news anchor on MSNBC. She has been in quarantine because her partner, Susan, had a serious case of Covid-19. She had a substitute for several nights, who told us that she was quarantined because “someone close to her” had tested positive for Covid-19. On Thursday of last week, she was back! Only she wasn’t in the studio, she was in her home office so not only the background was different, but she looked different – this is because she didn’t have on make-up (which she doesn’t wear outside the studio) and doesn’t even know how to put it on herself! At one point, she had trouble with the mikes and had to clumsily figure it out. She told us her story with great poignancy as well as good humor.
She started out her quarantine story this way: “I’m in love.” Rachel and Susan have been together for 21 years and have a very solid relationship. She then went on to explain the anxiety she felt when Susan got sick, especially as she showed some serious symptoms, saying she wished it had been herself instead of Susan. Her story was a lot like the stories of many people around the country – around the world, actually: she unabashedly revealed her emotions and described how worried and fearful she became because Susan was really sick. I guess she never had to go to the hospital, but as an MSNBC news reporter, Rachel knows what can easily happen with this virus and she was prepared for whatever would happen. She nursed Susan, she comforted and entertained her, and I suppose gave her whatever pharmaceuticals she could to help her partner out. She injected a little humor into the story, as she does on TV.
For people reading this who don’t know who Rachel Maddow is, she is an excellent news reporter – she is inquisitive, serious when the issue is serious, and humorous whenever she can. She usually presents the news in a way that captures one’s interest: she begins a human-interest story, focusing on a person, a situation, or a place, and you never know at first how it’s connected to anything but also know that she will make the connection as she launches into the major news story. Her show is on at 8:00 pm Central Time Monday through Friday and her reputation is such that she is allowed to hold off commercial breaks for around 25 minutes while she develops the story she’s reporting on, so you get the facts of the issue as well as her own twist on it. She helps the viewer see the issue in a wider context – like a camera that focuses on a small detail and then zooms out to include the entire scene.
Rachel is no dummy – she was a Rhodes scholar and earned her PhD in politics at Oxford University. She has also won a number of awards as her popularity soared. She connects well with her audience and while we see some of her personality on her show, the story of her partner’s illness and how she felt about it revealed a much more personal and intimate look into her world outside work. She did this not only to explain to her viewers why she was in quarantine but also to hopefully touch someone out there who may not take Covid-19 as seriously as it is, and the anxiety that loved ones go through not knowing how the virus will affect the person close to them. She wanted people to understand why foregoing a family at Thanksgiving this year is the smart and loving thing to do:
Maddow expressed some understanding for those who take risks with their own welfare in order to snatch a tiny slice of normal life back. But she also explained that, unfortunately, that’s not how coronavirus works. “I’m guessing that you might be willing to risk yourself. Especially after all these months and all this time. It’s so frustrating, right?” she said. “You don’t get to just say, ‘I’m willing to get this thing and play the odds.’ You don’t get that choice. It won’t necessarily be you. It’ll be the person you most care about in the world. How can you bear that?” (Quoted from KQED Nov. 20, 2020)
She concluded by saying, “All you can do is move heaven and Earth to not get it and not transmit it. “This thing is scary as hell. Whatever you have been doing to risk getting it, don’t.”
I am betting this story will be one of the most watched of all her shows and who knows? She may get another award for it.
By the way, Susan is recovering well!