Solidarity as Survival Strategy

Besides the recently cancelled Lodge 49, continuing series like Russian Doll, Atlanta, and Claws all portray worlds in which community serves as an antidote to precarity.

In short, they are essential viewing for the COVID era. These shows may come from the Before Times, but they are about the End Times. None of them, of course, concerns a global pandemic. But all of them argue for the kinds of cooperative, communitarian arrangements that, it’s clear, will be necessary for surviving the now-and-future crisis.

In the finale of Lodge 49 (AMC, 2018-19), long-time lodge member Ernie is crowned Sovereign Protector of the fraternal Order of the Lynx’s Long Beach outpost. The ceremony ends with Ernie, in full regalia, lifted aloft for some celebratory crowd-surfing. It’s a cathartic moment for the series characters, whose wanderings have ended with this de facto reunion. But it’s equally moving for viewers, who may recognize in the sequence’s soundtrack—The Fairport Convention’s cover of Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It with Mine”—an echo of the series philosophy: “You may search at any cost/ But for how long can you/ search for what’s not lost?” Sandy Denny sings, summing up the psychedelic quandary at the heart of the show before offering an answer: “Everybody will help you/ some people are very kind.”

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