If 2020 Were A Hollywood Screenplay, How Would it End?

This year has been batshit (literally), but as we enter Act III, all bets are off. 

I don't know what it is about 2020, but I feel like with everyone I talk to, it is to blame for every problem in the entire world. I think it has something to do with the worldwide pandemic that blew up economies, tanked Hollywood, and caused most of us to lose a ton of money, thus sending our psyches on a vicious spiral of depression and fear. 

But who really knows? 

To be perfectly honest, I feel like this year has been a tidal wave of awful. It's been so bad I forgot about murder hornets until just now. And they have the word "murder" in their name.

There has been political anger, some atrocious human rights violations, and a real reconciliation with who we are as a human race and how we want to treat each other. 

No matter what, we're hurtling toward the end of the year. 

If 2020 were a screenplay, we'd be entering Act III, and no one knows more about the third act than screenwriters. So, The Washington Post reached out to some writers to see how they would end 2020.

Let's dive in.

First, let's get the flaws of the year's storytelling capabilities out of the way.  “It doesn’t feel like it has the sort of narrative structure that we expect of TV,” said Dan Schofield, a writer and producer of NBC’s The Good Place. “Like, it’s all rising action.”

And the year's problems don't stop there. I mean, what's the genre? 

“There’s ways in which this would be a black comedy or a drama or a satire,” said Schofield.

But it depends on how you narrow your focus. What about COVID-19?

“I haven’t yet found a ton of humor in the disease,” he said.

Cheo Hodari Coker, the showrunner for Netflix’s Luke Cage, thinks 2020 is a 24-esque action show, with a president who is “clearly out of his mind” and has “his finger on the button.” But we are maybe spread too thin to acknowledge all the wild things going on. 

“This is a year that’s so crazy that literally actual government footage of a UFO was declassified and nobody talked about it,” Coker said.

Angela Kang, showrunner of AMC’s The Walking Dead, sees the horror befalling us in “this weird flu that’s passing through Asia,” she says. “And little by little, people are disappearing and you don’t know why. And then, of course, you eventually learn that, in fact, the dead are marching through China.”

I mentioned the murder hornets earlier, but it feels like this year has been riddled with huge news stories we pass over. I'm worried they were part of an elaborate plant and payoff... and so are other writers. 

“That’s the kind of thing where you just drop a mention of it somewhere in an episode, and then you forget about it,” Kang said. “And then it’s supposed to come back at the end of the season in some unexpected way.”

So what happens at the end? 

That's the question we're all dying to know. Also, am I the only one terrified of dying this year? Man, 2020 did a number on any hope for the future! Luckily, I'm not alone. 

“The first thought that I had was like, is this a season finale or is this a series finale?” Schofield said. “Is this a wrap on America as a country?”

And who's to blame?

He suggests Mark Burnett or Jeff Zucker, two of the executives behind The Apprentice, might be holding the snow globe.

That reference to St. Elsewhere notwithstanding, there's a real wonder of what comes next, or how can we carry on? 

Schofield spitballed, “The murder hornets come in, the aliens come in simultaneously with the seas [rising]. The wildfires come in from every corner. You know, human nature is extinguished. That seems to be the only possible way to tie up all the loose ends.”

Woof. 

“I think I would look for some absurdist turn,” said Kang. “It could be, Trump goes out to California and there’s wildfires. And he seems to go on location for a photo op, and disappears, and he’s presumed dead. But it turns out he used that as an escape to go to Russia because he figured, ‘Well, I’m going to lose. [...]  Russia will protect me and I won’t have to pay my tax bill.’”

Hey, I'm all for that Dr. Strangelove twist. It seems like we could really push forward through that insanity. But only time will tell. 

Coker has a much happier ending in mind.

“The happy ending is: Right at the brink of things falling apart, the president comes out of his steroid stupor and realizes that 'I’ve lost myself. I’ve lost my country. I’ve lost my party. I apologize. I resign.'”

But that one seems the least likely. 

No matter what happens, we'll be talking about this year for a long time. It's how we'll measure how bad things are, and maybe it'll be the year we talk about around our campfires, as we swat away murder hornets during the nuclear apocalypse. 

Or maybe we forget all about this year as soon as we can go back to the movies and hug our friends again.

What do you think will happen in the end? 

Let us know in the comments.      

Your Comment

6 Comments

End of 2020 screenplay? It would end with a market crash and Trump on a national guard hummer handing out cash. It would soundtrack of Frank Underwood's character from House of Cards.

2021 screen would start with a surprise event. Catch season 2 audience with a reason to tune in for the next episode.

November 2, 2020 at 7:15PM, Edited November 2, 7:18PM

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A last minute miracle vaccine to Coronavirus arrives on December 30. Celebration. The phone rings. The President answers “hello?”
CDC is on the other end of the line. “Sir, we have some bad news.”
Pause
“New York Methodist is out of beds, and...”
The President interrupts “whoa whoa whoa, the vaccines are coming, we can send extra beds if you need them, but...”
CDC replies: “Sir, it’s not COVID......”
Silence.
“It’s the Plague.”

CREDITS

November 3, 2020 at 4:57AM

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With everyone being outraged and then the original director being called back to do reshoots and then a direct to vod re release with their original vision and we then pretend the whole thing never happened.

November 3, 2020 at 5:43AM

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Kill it in pre-production because financing dropped out due to covid

November 3, 2020 at 8:52AM

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Willy Wonka, Charlie, and Grandpa Joe enter the glass elevator. Charlie presses the one button Wonka has never pushed and the device rumbles to life. Anticipation and excitement beam across the faces of the occupants when suddenly the elevator heaves off leaving the floor and the occupants resting on the ground. Willy Wonka, Charlie, and Grandpa Joe stare bewilderingly up into the sky as the great glass elevator careens into the heavens never to be see again. The end.

November 3, 2020 at 12:08PM

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Can wait for new films. After 2020 I won't be surprised at anything, probably

November 4, 2020 at 6:36AM

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Alton Schaeffer
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