Graphic by Al McLeroy
The new Netflix Original documentary series, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak, is a beautifully shot documentary with a very unique angle on the spread and management of pandemics. The most important thing to clarify is that it’s not a scientific documentary, it’s about the socioeconomic effect of viruses. When you finish the series you won’t come out learning the chemical makeup of a virus, but how governments and communities manage these outbreaks and how it affects the average person.
Critics and regular viewers had a lot of negative things to say about the show. For instance, users on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes called it a “Reality TV Show,” the reason being that the documentary does not go into the specifics of how viruses spread and mutate, how vaccines are made, or anything remotely related to the actual science around them. Viewers believed that the show lacked focus on what they believed to be the main idea of the series. What these users say is all very true, though there is more to Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak than that.
The series follows a variety of different people, such as a team of scientists creating a universal vaccine, a small Oklahoma county’s only doctor, a worker giving vaccines to immigrants crossing the southern US border, an anti-vaxxer parent, the lead manager of an ebola outbreak in Africa, and plenty more. It follows the stories of these people’s lives and how they respond to a worldwide pandemic.
The production quality of the show is fantastic. The shots are excellent, the editing of all the interviews makes the show flow very well, and it does a good job to keep viewers invested with both heartbreaking and heartwarming moments. I believe the “Reality TV” angle the producers took for this documentary is exactly what people want to and need to see. For most people, knowing all about the scientific side of pandemics isn’t very important, but knowing the effect it will have on them and their community is. Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak succeeded in its goal to give people the information they needed in a time of fake news and misinformation.