Documentary Review Humor

Documentary Review | Death To 2020

Viciously Funny and Entertaining

Rating: 3 out of 4.

Death To 2020 is a mockumentary of the year gone by on Netflix.

There is no doubt that 2020 was a lousy year. We witnessed a pandemic of global scale after nearly 100 years. But to go overboard and hang all our probems on a ‘year’ – an impalpable thing – does not make sense to me.

Actually, it’s not just this show but a whole set of individuals, too, who turned 2020 into some sort of walking and breathing nightmarish ghoul. For them, 2020 was a perfect piñata minus the candies.

Anyways, on to the review of Death To 2020.

I tuned into the documentary uninitiated, not knowing a thing about it. I thought it would be a serious encapsulation of everything that went wrong last year. And, it did turn out to be that except the seriousness.

Unlike a documentary which informs and educates, a mockumentary exists to critique real-life events in a comically exaggerated fashion.

We are introduced to Lawrence Fishburne’s baritonic voice as the narrator of the series. I think he has done a fabulous job and something tells me this won’t be his last job as a narrator. The entire voice-over is laced with witty sarcasm and dark humour.

However, he is not the only one at it.

Enter Samuel Jackson who plays the faux-editor of the fictitious ‘New Yorkerly News’. He kicks things off in his inimitable style by christening Switzerland as ‘snowy hell’ and Davos Summit as ‘Coachella for billionaires and bastards’.

Throughout its runtime of 70 minutes, Death to 2020 dishes out an abundant dose of deliciously crafted lines such as

“…stock market shitting $10 billion out of its economic anus.”

“Oscars ceremony is an important global event that celebrates Caucasian filmmakers.

Hugh Grant appears as this quirky, history professor who cites Game of Thrones and Star Wars among his historical references. It actually took me a couple of minutes to make out it was the affable British actor. Full marks to Grant and the makeup team.

Hugh Grant as Professor Tennyson Foss in Death To 2020
Hugh Grant as Prof Tennyson Foss in Death To 2020 (pic source: www.thesun.co.uk)

Then there is Kumail Nanjiani’s character, a tech billionaire who runs his office from a hollowed-out mountain in New Zealand. He counts Greta Thunberg as his inspiration to settle in ‘mountains’.

Lisa Kudrow appears as non-official conservative spokesperson, who is a walking epitome of denial.

In my opinion, it’s the ‘most average citizen’ character played by Diane Morgan that stands out from the rest.

She plays a dumb ginger head with a thick British (guess it’s Bolton) accent whose favorite show during lockdowns as America (referring to pre-US-elections showdown). She then goes on describe Trump as an inflatable orange maniac and Biden as a ticket inspector on a ghost train.

If there is one real-life character that really gets badgered in the show, it is the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He really gets it hard.

Boris Johnson becomes the subject of slapstick humor in Death To 2020
Boris Johnson is the butt of jokes in Death To 2020 (source: www.marieclaire.co.uk)

Fishburne labels Johnson as the Prime Ministerial Scarecrow. Not only does Johnson get shamed for his appearance but the show also exposes his jarring tactics during the initial phase of the pandemic.

The mockumentary recounts the event where one day the British PM was caught emphasizing the significance of washing hands and the next day he was in a hospital shaking hands with the infected and later, boasting about it on TV.

However, not everyone is treated with black humor and sarcasm.

The death of George Floyd is given the respect it deserves and here the makers suspend their lampooning for some time, with Samuel Jackson character avering, “in some ways I prefer the Coronavirus to the police.”

While the mockumentary does a great job of providing plenty of ROFL moments, there are a few parts when it appears to be deliberately pushing a point. For instance, the part where it insinuates that all may not be well between Biden and Vice-President elect Kamala Harris felt a little forced.

The show even makes an allusion to Harris becoming the next US President in case an unfortunate event was to befall Joe Biden. Well, black humor, you know.

The problem with Death To 2020, in my view, is that it appears to confine itself to one major event in the end. Even the pandemic is reduced to an underling to the US elections in the final third.

Since the show comes from the makers of Black Mirror, viewers might have high expectations from it. Unlike the non-linear storytelling of the sci-fi series, however, Death To 2020 thrives on a plain narrative told in a chronological fashion. You won’t be disappointed.


©BookJelly. All rights reserved

Death to 2020 review

1 comment

  1. Thank you for the chance to vicariously experience this show! It’s fascinating because referent to something we’ve all been living through together, but clearly not processed yet. This would be true of any year I guess, but 2020 was different. I’ll definitely be adding this to my queue, when and if I have access to Netflix again!

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