WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
Bill Oakley considers himself lucky—"a lucky jerk," more specifically.
As a comedy writer with a long résumé, the highlight of which is his time as showrunner for The Simpsons during the show's mid-'90s glory years, the pandemic has scarcely affected his work life, which already involved hours spent at home in front of his computer. If anything, the reliance on video conferencing has helped convince people in L.A. that it's possible to have a career in television while living in someplace like Portland, where he moved a decade ago.
One area of his life that coronavirus has disrupted, though, is his burgeoning side gig as a fast food critic.
In 2018, Oakley began filling his Instagram page with reviews of drive-thrus, fast-casual franchises and local Portland spots—even the automatic pancake machine at Portland International Airport—and developed a following even outside of Simpsons die-hards. But since the statewide shutdown, his main source of content, not to mention sustenance, has dried up.
"This is the longest period of my life I've gone without having fast food," Oakley says. "At the height of my Instagram, I was probably having it four or five times per week."
Still, there's plenty for him to talk about—including the impending arrival of Shake Shack in Portland. WW spoke to Oakley about how he's now filling his time (and stomach), the episodes of The Simpsons he considers comfort food, and why Portlanders should curb their enthusiasm about that big burger chain that's coming to town.