‘Death to 2020’: The comedy special we all deserved.

A mockumentary, Death of 2020 recounts the countless historical events of the year via a blend of satire and factual information.

Netflix [Fair Use]

A mockumentary, “Death of 2020” recounts the countless historical events of the year via a blend of satire and factual information.

By Jillian Snodgrass, The Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science

“We’re taking a look back at the year 2020.” 

So begins Netflix’s mockumentary “Death to 2020.” The past year left no room to breathe between the major world events that occured over its course, and this comedy special covered almost everything, from wildfires in Australia to the coronavirus pandemic to the United States presidential election that loomed over it all. After such a year, we all need something to laugh over, and this film is the perfect outlet.

“Death to 2020” had me chuckling within the first couple of minutes, instantly ensnaring me in its tongue-in-cheek humor via commentary by Samuel L. Jackson. Over the course of the film, other characters were introduced as interviewees, including a self-described “soccer mom” with questionable morals, a hypocritical White House spokesperson and even the queen of England herself (portrayed by an actor, of course).

These actors told the story of 2020 through the lenses of their own lives, between which relevant video clips from the year played–everything from Trump’s underwhelming Tulsa rally to more serious topics such as the summer’s protests against police brutality.

It takes a delicate hand to make these serious moments in history humorous, but the film was successful in that area. An attempt to make the Black Lives Matter protests seem funny could easily have become insensitive, but in the hands of directors Al Campbell and Alice Mathias, “Death to 2020” achieved a perfect satirical balance, making the perpetrators of police brutality look like the villains they are while not taking away from the pain of Black people and protestors across America. Satire should make the oppressor the target of the joke, which is exactly what the film did.

The only complaints I have about “Death to 2020” are minor. Because of its documentary format, sometimes interviewers behind the camera ask questions of or make comments toward the fake interviewees. When they did so, I found it difficult to hear what the interviewers were saying, even with the volume on my television turned to the highest setting. Additionally, Netflix included a cringe-worthy few minutes of what seemed to be a sort of year-in-review for the company, including clips from shows like “The Floor is Lava” and “Tiger King.” There was no evident reason for this except advertisement, and it didn’t flow well with the rest of the film.

Overall, I would still recommend “Death to 2020” to anyone who needs a reminder of how long the past year has been, although before watching make sure you can stomach a bit of cursing. I was reminded of the vast and incredible experiences that we’ve had as a nation–there is an old saying that goes “May you be cursed to live in interesting times,” and it’s safe to say we all understand that now, but we at least can watch this film and have a good laugh about it.

This story was originally published on The Vision MSMS on January 15, 2021.