The OTHER Pandemic: HIV & AIDS on TV Past and Present
Just as television creatives in the last year were faced with a choice to engage (or not engage) with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the industry faced a similar choice in the 1980s with the arrival of HIV & AIDS. As the virus progressed in real time, so did lack of information, fear, and ignorance -- which was often reflected on screen though early portrayals of HIV and AIDS that were problematic to the very communities most devastated by the virus.
The ‘90s brought a rise in more educated and empathetic portrayals with ER and Life Goes On, opening the door to even more nuanced storylines on Brothers & Sisters, How to Get Away with Murder, and Looking. All of these series allowed TV to explore HIV not as a death sentence, but as a medical condition to be managed and treated like any other, without stigmatization.
This conversation will explore TV’s complicated history in regards to HIV & AIDS storylines, and the ways in which it has dismantled stereotypes by showing those living with HIV and AIDS as capable of not just surviving, but thriving.