blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Death to 2020 (2020, Al Campbell and Alice Mathias)

“Death to 2020” has twenty credited writers. And its show creators aren’t among them.

Twenty writers.

It’s seventy minutes and the narration jokes either all flat or so many of them fall flat I can’t remember any not falling flat. Larry Fishburne is the narrator, it’s not his fault, they’re just not good jokes. They maybe should’ve identified what the writers worked on, like who wrote the narration, who wrote the stuff for Sam Jackson, Tracey Ullman, and Samson Kayo because it’s the best stuff.

So “Death to 2020” is a Netflix special—they make a few comical synergy placements but then also less obvious ones like Joe Keery having a part because he’s on “Stranger Things”—recapping 2020 with a bunch of actors pretending to be in the media or otherwise related. Ullman’s the Queen (I’d watch a whole show), Jackson’s a New Yorkerly Times reporter, Kayo’s a scientist, and so on.

The best performance is probably Hugh Grant—in a lot of makeup, presumably—as a British stuffed shirt documentary historian. He just doesn’t have the best material. There’s a whole bit about him confusing movies for reality and they never find the joke. They needed at least two more writers no doubt.

Lisa Kudrow’s the biggest disappointment as one of the white supremacist Barbie Republican talking heads. It seems like she’s going to be great and maybe Kudrow could’ve been great but the writing’s crap. Similarly, Leslie Jones is really funny as a cynical sociologist but the writing’s not good.

Kumail Nanjiani is fine as a tech bro. He’s kind of filler. Given all the events of 2020, you’d think they would’ve had to pad so much—especially when they basically skip the late summer—but they pad away.

Diane Morgan’s “most average person on Earth” is a little less funny when you start to wonder if the average person really is so obtuse. And making Cristin Milioti’s Karen into an actual Neo-Nazi seems a bit too much, like she doesn’t need to be sympathetic but funny Neo-Nazis… I mean, let’s not.

The funniest part of the seventy minutes is the end credits when they have the cast—in character—read 2021 predictions.

It’s not incompetent and there are some decent laughs… but it’s not, I don’t know, any good either. It’s like that “Tiger King” recap special only with a budget, without Joel McHale, and about 2020.

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