Pity the travel influencer (or don't; it's easy not to). Before COVID-19, the art of stoking wanderlust was defined by selling a fantasy—the promise not only of a perfect vacation, but of a self somehow fortified and made special by going to the same bleached beaches and blue-domed Greek villages as everyone else. But now, almost a year into a pandemic that's grounded people like never before, professional nomads find themselves being excoriated for the very same thing they built their reputations on: escaping reality for far-flung places most others can't reach.
There's something distinctly loaded, now, about watching someone roam around, with all the attendant pleasures and pit stops and moments of connection that used to punctuate everyday life. Two new TV travelogues find themselves butting up against a reality they hadn't anticipated. Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy, a six-part series on CNN hosted by the actor and cookbook author, presents itself as escapism, even as it half-acknowledges the reality of the pandemic—its first episode, set mainly in Naples, was filmed after the first Italian lockdown ended last year. Men in Kilts, a half-hour series on Starz, follows two actors from the show Outlander as they traverse Scotland in a camper van. Although it was filmed almost entirely pre-pandemic, its concept seems to have anticipated a particular truth about this moment.