Without doubt 2020 was one of the most polarizing years in recent history and arguably human history entirely. From the globally devastating Covid-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter movement charged by tragic death of George Floyd, 2020 was easily one of the most (If not the most) memorable years in the lives of all whom experienced it. Which is exactly why Netflix’s new Mockumentary/Comedy ‘Death to 2020’ struggles to impress.
When I stumbled across ‘Death to 2020’ in my daily endless scroll through Netflix’s catalogue I thought for all counts that it was going to be a poorly written attempt to recount the year using a few big names and less than original lines that may muster a laugh or two along the way. Unfortunately for the most part I was right…
From the outset ‘Death to 2020’ is not necessarily a bad idea conceptually, in fact I’d go as far as saying it had a substantial amount of potential to be quality, and backed by a few big names in the cast there was certainly an opportunity for that quality to be found. Based obviously around the events of 2020 real life footage and images are commented on by a group of “comedically” named individuals whom are being interviewed about the year and its events from their perspective. Most notably is Samuel L. Jackson who plays Dash Bracket and opens the piece as a journalist for a publication called the New Yorkerly News.
However the unfortunate but easily noticed problem that this piece found itself with was where it stood on the scale of comedy to seriousness, and whilst it is understandable given some of the subject matter, it stumbled to go wholeheartedly in either direction more than likely out of fear of a poor public reaction. For a piece falling under ‘Mockumentary’ it really did struggle to bring out more than the occasional chuckle throughout its course and given the fact that I was more interested to literally look back through the year’s footage in a chronological order than the actual comedic purpose of the piece instead is somewhat concerning. As a viewer, if you are able to remember most of the big events of the year (Which most should) then there is little reason for you to watch ‘Death to 2020’ as it fails to stand as really much more of a high production recap.
The cast isn’t necessarily bad either, I’d say they were quite good given what they had to work with. However that doesn’t mean that ‘Death to 2020’ is anywhere near the quality it could have been with better writing decisions. For a piece which in it’s title proposes to be a complete look back at all the horrible events 2020 it was fairly dismissive of many crucial events, in many cases giving little more than a quick reference and heavily focused on the political climate in the United States. Especially regarding the Presidential Election between Biden and Trump which whilst of course being a huge part of the year, was arguably covered more than the global Covid-19 pandemic which seemed strange.
The almost centralized focus on US politics hindered the piece’s ability to do other events justice and whilst having some comedic value just felt unnecessary after about 20 minutes of overused Trump jokes. Whilst throughout ‘Death to 2020’ there is a fairly well put together timeline of events its hard not to say that for what it is attempting to do, the piece feels flat and rarely succeeds in adding any sort of creativity to a recap of events that few really need a reminder to remember.
Perhaps it is an inability to completely commit to a quality comedic centrality or a misusage of a well brought together cast, but whilst not a completely unwatchable failure ‘Death to 2020’ certainly feels like something that could have been put together with far more creativity and appeal if done correctly. Other than a few good skits from Lisa Kudrow and the occasional laugh there is little to say about ‘Death to 2020’ other than an underwhelming release of a concept that held such high potential.