'Death To 2020' Critics' Review: Banal Satire Despite Star Cast

The mockumentary is streaming on Netflix.

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Samuel L Jackson and Lisa Kudrow in stills from Netflix comedy <i>Death To 2020</i>.

Death To 2020, which released on Netflix on 27 December, is a mockumentary by Black Mirror creators Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones. The show mixes real-life footage with commentary from fictional characters and covers pivotal events of the year such as the coronavirus pandemic, the US election, Parasite's historic Oscar win, the rise of Tik Tok and so on. The show features a star-studded cast that includes Samuel L Jackson, Lisa Kudrow, Hugh Grant, Cristin Milioti, Leslie Jones, Kumail Nanjiani and Laurence Fishburne.

Here's what critics have to say about the show:

"'Death to 2020' is a generally hacky piece of recycled political satire and tired documentary parody reflecting on the year that was in a way that will feel fresh to you only if you've self-imposed a strict media blackout since February. If you haven't, you'll probably end up wondering why, with 366 days to contemplate punchlines, Brooker has delivered something generally less funny than Trevor Noah and 10 guys named Jimmy did on a nightly basis, John Oliver and Samantha Bee did on a weekly basis, and half of your Twitter feed and Facebook friends contributed to almost second-by-second."
Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter
Star-studded and full of rote archival footage, 'Death to 2020' is aggressively bland, as if something about 2020 defied Brooker’s attempts to parody it. It’s not as if he doesn’t make the effort: The skit-filled satire boasts nearly 20 writers. There aren’t 20 jokes to be found in this retrospective, however, and that’s not because the subject isn’t rife with absurdity. But unlike Brooker’s more shrewd comedic efforts — for example, the acerbic satire of Black Mirror’s Gamergate-inspired season four episode 'USS Callister' — this outing is completely toothless. Most of the show’s 67 minutes just tell us what we already know, because we just lived through it."
Aja Romano, Vox
"The special assumes viewers will be invested enough in its premise (phew, 2020!) that character development can start and end with a job title and a goofy name. As Bracket, Jackson leans back in his chair and opines about Black Lives Matter marches. He delivers lines about the Chinese doctors who tried to warn the world about COVID: “Blowing the whistle while on a ventilator? That’s a big ask.” Bracket never becomes a real character, nor does Pyrex Flask, who has no specific qualities beyond “likes science” and “knows how to floss” (as in the dance). They are supposed to be impressions, sort of, but impressions of nothing and no one in particular."
Kathryn VanArendonk, Vulture

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