An entire month has already gone by in the new year of 2021, but the world is still reeling from the aftermath of every single sh*t storm that took place in the insane year of 2020. Who would have thought that 2020, with its nicely symmetrical numbers, would make so many different aspects of our lives fall apart?
Well, the creators of the famously creepy Black Mirror, a Netflix dystopian science fiction anthology series, are here to rehash the year that tormented us all. Remember when World War III almost happened, before COVID was even on anyone’s radar? I certainly didn’t, but that’s what Death to 2020 is for—a complete and detailed recap of all of the crazy stuff that went down in those twelve, seemingly never ending months.
In the brilliantly satirical style of a mockumentary, Death to 2020 takes us on a journey from the explosive start of 2020 all the way to its relatively quiet end (we couldn’t go out to celebrate New Year’s because, you know, COVID). As the iconic voice of Laurence Fishburne narrates the events that took place, he is accompanied by several talented actors that perform mocking representations of major people that influenced society. The best part of the mockumentary is the way these figures are cut down to stereotypes, and ridiculed for their silly behavior. Below are a few highlights:
Everyone’s favorite symbol of sarcasm and cursing, Samuel L. Jackson, portrays Dash Bracket, a reporter for the fictional New Yorkerly News. With his scathing commentary on what is going on in the world, from rich people pretending to care about the environment to the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality, Jackson delivers a stern but humorous interpretation of all of the bullsh*t that occurred. The way he delivers his lines almost makes his scenes feel unscripted, as if he is truthfully speaking aloud about how he feels about everything. His sarcastic presentation makes way for a lot of laughs.
Kumail Nanjiani plays Bark Multiverse, a wealthy tech company CEO and one of the above mentioned “rich people pretending to care about the environment.” He is clearly a satire of Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. (the list of wealthy people who do nothing to help could go on and on). Despite having the immense financial means to donate to charitable causes, Multiverse chooses a different option. He instead invests in an underground survival bunker after attending a World Economic Forum about environmental destruction. While Nanjiani’s performance belittles the real figures of the tech mogul world by showing their ignorance and separation from reality, you can’t help but feel a little frustrated while watching.
Lisa Kudrow acts as Jeanetta Grace Susan, a conservative political spokesperson. From continuously denying quotes that have been caught on tape to her angry tirade about how conservative voices are being silenced, Kudrow’s character appears to be a lovely blend of Fox News anchor, Trump supporter, and dishonest politician. Following her character’s journey from the tumultuous start of the 2020 election to the equally disastrous aftermath of Trump’s loss, you can see a clear representation of the constant denial and fake news that have clouded American politics.
Jeanetta Grace Susan is only one small part of the political satire in Death to 2020. A large portion of 2020, aside from the still-continuing coronavirus global pandemic, was focused on the pile of garbage that was the 2020 U.S. presidential election. While Kudrow’s character may be a clear shot fired at the Republican party, the mockumentary’s creators certainly don’t shy away from making fun of liberals and the Democratic party as well. Between “experimental pigman” Trump and “Civil War hero and children sniffer” Biden, the election was an extremely grim process for both sides. Death to 2020, in an almost gleeful manner, utilizes all of the absurd election news to its advantage, and is able to craft a great satire from it (keep in mind that this was made by British people, too).
Another great character was Cristin Milioti as Kathy Flowers, a soccer mom-turned-white supremacist who also doubles as one of the stereotypical “Karens” that plagues society in the form of rude, loud, and often racist white women. While she seems like an unassuming and normal housewife at first, it is quickly revealed that Kathy Flowers has been using her free time in COVID quarantine to browse white supremacy sites and social media. On top of becoming a Nazi, there are also several videos of her harassing Black people, from accusing a Black man of stealing his own car to trying to take a ventilator away from a Black patient in the hospital. While Milioti’s performance is humorous in its portrayal of how seemingly innocent white women can also be evil, it’s also a brutal reflection of very real events that happened (see: “Central Park Karen” Amy Cooper and “Defacing Private Property Karen” Lisa Alexander).
In addition to these character highlights, Death to 2020 is also enhanced by the comedy of the following: Hugh Grant as an aging British historian, Leslie Jones as a sarcastic and spiteful behavioral psychologist, Joe Keery as an annoying millennial influencer, Tracey Ullman as an ancient Queen Elizabeth II, Samson Kayo as a scientist studying COVID-19, and finally, Diane Morgan as “one of the most average people in the entire world.”
There is no doubt that Death to 2020 will make you laugh. How could you not, after everything that’s happened? However, the wounds are still fresh. Every laugh is accompanied by a slight cringe, or perhaps an uneasy feeling. We may already be one month into 2021, but the aftershocks of 2020 are far from over. There was an insurrection in D.C. a mere six days into the new year; Biden may be officially sworn in as president now, but there’s no telling what other political happenings may occur. With the way it’s going, I won’t be surprised if Netflix makes a Death to 2021 mockumentary 11 months from now.