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The Pandemic Series Fans Of Utopia Need To Binge

Weirdly prescient timing aside, Amazon's Utopia is a bloody, thrilling pandemic series that proves itself to be a balm for these strange times. The shows sends a group of comic book fan conspiracy theorists skittering down a rabbit hole of a real-life global conspiracy, all while dealing with a flu-like outbreak that disproportionately affects children. Once you've devoured the first season, you may find yourself craving more fictional pandemic content, and the show that Utopia fans should turn to first is the CW's Containment.

Released in 2016 and lasting for just one season (a rarity for a CW show), Containment has retroactively become too realistic for its own good. The intense thriller is set in Atlanta, where a man presenting flu-like symptoms becomes patient zero of a highly infectious virus with a 100 percent fatality rate. Soon, the affected area of the city is quarantined in hopes of containing the spread, leaving the people within the cordoned-off portion of the city to fight for survival all on their own.

If Utopia left you wanting less of the old ultra-violence and more intimate (and terrifying) character drama goodness, then it's time to get acquainted with Containment, your next Netflix binge.

Containment is a grounded pandemic thriller that will leave Utopia fans chilled to the bone

One of the most attractive aspects of Utopia is its stylistic flourishes. From delightful music cues to its eccentric group of geeks turned reluctant heroes, the show is heightened just enough to feel like escapism, even as it mirrors the paranoia and dangers of our COVID-19 reality. Containment strips away those artistic flourishes and leaves you with a bleak depiction of what would go down if a portion of a city's citizens were forcibly locked in a small area with a highly contagious virus.

Despite the government's extreme measures, within the series, the virus continues to spread beyond the fenced off area of Atlanta, and Containment devotes a portion of the plot to tracing its progress. However, the real strength of the show lies in its focus on the people within the locked-down area. There's Katie (Kristen Gutoskie), a schoolteacher whose field trip to the local hospital leaves her in charge of a group of children separated from their parents; Teresa (Hanna Mangan-Lawrence), a pregnant 17-year-old whose boyfriend is on the other side of the fence; and Dr. Victor Cannerts (George Young), a young doctor scrambling to find a cure for the virus, while also treating the patients inside the hospital.

Since this is a CW show, there's a healthy dollop of relationship drama added to the proceedings, but ultimately, Containment is remarkably grounded in its depiction of pandemic life. The characters have to adjust to not shaking hands and to wearing surgical masks. Meanwhile, doctors race to formulate a vaccine and trace the origins of the virus, all while the death toll rises. Just like in Utopia, there is a bigger conspiracy at play in Containment, but that hardly matters when the people locked in the area surrounding the hospital are fighting for their lives. 

Neither Containment nor Utopia allow viewers to look away from the human cost that comes with a pandemic, but in terms of realism, the CW series wins out — for better or worse. If Utopia is the perfect gateway into the pandemic TV genre, Containment is the logical next step: a show with a commitment to realism that will keep you up at night, while also serving as yet another reminder to always wash your hands.