“It’s a virus, a kind of super flu” says one of The Stand’s characters in the first episode. A statement that will surely resonate throughout the world today, given that it’s been uttered by us all at one point or another in 2020 and yet the most shocking thing about this is that those words were written by Stephen King in 1978. That was 43 years ago in his book ‘The Stand (in Spain they opted for the translation ‘The dance of death’, until its full version was released in 1999) in which he tells how a deadly pandemic devastates almost the entire world population.

The fact that the master of terror wrote “it’s a virus, a kind of super flu” four decades ago to tell this story is chilling but it’s even more so when watching the television adaptation CBS made into 9 episodes which will be available on Starzplay +in Spain every Sunday.

The similarities with what we’re experiencing with COVID-19 will have you glued to your screens because the only explanation you can find for so many coincidences is that someone read the original book (more than 1,000 pages) and then recreated the exact same virus today: in the series the only survivors are children and a select number of adults who have no idea why they’ve been spared. Coughing is the main symptom, politicians refuse to shut the economy down merely because people are suffering from “a simple cold”, there are suspicions that the establishment have had a hand in the spread of the disease and even our fictional epidemiologist ends up catching the virus… Remember when Fauci announced that he was undergoing a self-imposed quarantine for exposure? Hairs on end.

The Stand
‘The Stand’

Differences with reality that leave a better taste in the mouth

But since the difference between reality and fiction is that the latter has to make sense, ‘The Stand’ fulfills its mission to entertain and allow us to disconnect from our current reality with a series of carefully chosen and much appreciated ingredients.

The series boasts several rather unpleasant elements of the supernatural but which at the same time will have us knowingly nodding and smiling at the author’s ability to have his feet firmly planted on the ground while his minds wanders among the clouds. Geniuses whose work is always worth reading and the adaptations thereof worth watching.

On another front, the characters don’t wear masks either. A noticeable difference with the actual level of contagion we are currently experiencing, and which will have us squirming in discomfort as we observe the contact scenes. Or jumping to our feet in protest as the characters surround themselves with others who are coughing. You’ll be hard pressed to control a desire to shake the heck out of anyone acting recklessly on-screen in the hope they’ll come to their senses.

The Stand
‘The Stand’

The leaps backwards and forwards in time are another difference with our reality because, although we would like to, for us it isn’t so easy to revisit the past to discover who was the first person infected, nor to the future to discover what awaits us. We might think it’d be a cool superpower, but maybe it wouldn’t be as nice as we think.

And the final major difference between the television adaptation of The Stand and our reality is that CBS did not skimp on budget. Something that has allowed them to deliver one of their best productions in recent years. However, many countries cannot say the same when it comes to managing the current pandemic. So, we’ll continue watching ‘The Stand’ to see whether King knew what our future holds or if it’s just a mirage.

Paula Hergar
Paula Hergar is a 360 journalist as Paquita Salas would say, writes about TV in Vertele and presents, writes, and directs Zapping on LOS40. In addition to collaborating in cultural programs in La 2 and being the author of the book ‘Around the world in 80 series’.