The Charlie Brooker satire arrives on Netflix from today – but is it worth your time?
Of all years to do a recap, the ‘Black Mirror’ creator decides that 2020 is such a year. Yes, sure, it’s not your typical recap, but in some ways it very much is. Charlie Brooker’s ‘Death to 2020’ is a rather hit-and-miss affair, with the stellar cast ensuring that our attention is firmly placed on them, rather than remembering the year we’d all rather forget.
Arranged as a documentary/satirical special with talking head features and stock footage, ‘Death to 2020’ is a rather confusing entity to watch.
The 70-minute feature intersperses real-life events such as the Australian bushfires, Megxit, Brexit, Donald Trump, climate change, and that COVID-19 virus with fictional happenings from our cast of characters.
Samuel L. Jackson plays a straight-talking New Yorkerly News reporter, not far off from any character the actor has ever played; Leslie Jones plays the voice of reason as behavioural therapist Dr. Maggie Gravel; Joe Keery plays Duke Goolies, a content provider-turned-life-coach-turned-influencer; with Tracy Ullman taking on the title of “Queen Elizabeth the First, Part II”.
There’s also Lisa Kudrow, Hugh Grant, Kumail Ninjiani, and Samson Kayo to enjoy, each tackling the personality of a specific character which we all recognise as soon as we turn on a television or look at our phones.
However, it’s the characters played by Cristin Milioti and Diane Morgan who will be the most relatable to audiences. Milioti (from ‘Black Mirror’ episode ‘USS Callister’) plays Kathy Flowers, “a self-described regular soccer mom”. In reality, Kathy is really a white supremacist, conspiracy theorist, anti-vax racist, who gets all of her information from social media. Her moments are golden, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to when she’s next on-screen.
Morgan also plays a run of the mill observer in all of this, as Gemma Nerrick with the moniker of a typical “average citizen”. She looks back on the year in disbelief that any of this is real, and her comments will make you ponder on a number of occasions.
The message is plain and simple with all of these characters – every single one of these, even though they are made up here for a Netflix satire, they are all out there in the real world. It serves as just one of the chilling ‘Black Mirror’ elements which manages to seep into this special.
While ‘Death to 2020’ will definitely produce a generous amount of laughter from viewers at times, there are a number of moments you’ll laugh for sure, one can’t help but think – why bother?
The special is up to date – including footage from earlier in December of the first vaccine being administered in the UK – but it all feels rather jarring. Watching this while the world still deals with various lockdowns, virus strains, and impacts on people’s everyday lives all feels a bit hollow. The escapism we were looking for isn’t really there.
We get what Charlie Brooker, Annabel Jones and their writing team were attempting to do here – make light of an incredibly difficult year for all – but it ends up being a lot of noise, but no sound.
Can the cast come back for season six of ‘Black Mirror’, please?
‘Death to 2020’ is available to watch on Netflix now.