Last year, Netflix released their mockumentary deriding the events of 2020. A dumpster fire of a year, certainly. Unfortunately, while 2021 was marginally better, things still look far away from being back to business as usual. So Netflix did the only thing it could do: release a sequel and develop Death to 2021. Is this going to be an annual thing? Perhaps so, because the world does seem to be spiraling out of control for the past couple of years.
However, unlike the previous year’s mockumentary, Death to 2021 landed on Netflix with virtually little fanfare. In fact, I’ve scoured online for any buzz about it and it’s virtually non-existent. I even went to Netflix’s official YouTube page to find a trailer for it but it’s non-existent! I could only find a couple of official clips. That didn’t really forebode well to me. If Netflix isn’t sure Death to 2021 even deserves a trailer, why would I expect it to be any good?
Anyway, Death to 2021 is basically a recap of all the weird and nasty things which have happened throughout the previous year. With 2021 being the year it was and all the stuff happening all over the world, I assumed Death to 2021 would be there to educate me on some of the big news items I overlooked like with what happened in Death to 2020. Well, it must have been a slow but arduous year because all of the important bits of news they decided to focus on, I already knew about them.
They do tackle the really big issues like the events which unfolded on the United States Capitol building on January 6 as well as the resurgence of the pandemic thanks to the new variant. They also covered the things which sprung out of those events, such as various conspiracy theories about how the US election was allegedly stolen and vaccine hesitancy. Death to 2021 also shined the spotlight on some of the other stories which happened in the year, like how people all over the world lost their minds when Facebook crashed for a few hours, Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah and various billionaire firing themselves in phallic shaped rockets into space.
Now, those were stories worth talking about. Too bad Netflix had to try to toot their own horn by plugging their own shows and covering them like they were world changing events. I get Bridgerton was talked about for a while and Squid Game dominated the social sphere when it came out. However, it feels rather cheap as Death to 2021 didn’t also talk about other big shows like the ones you would find on Disney+ or HBO Max. I mean, if they can talk about Bridgerton and Squid Game, why didn’t they also talk about Zack Snyder’s Justice League or Loki? Those shows also caused a stir as well!
The acting and characters here are much more hit or miss when compared to the original. Some, like Hugh Grant, Joe Keery, Samson Kayo, Diane Morgan and Cristin Milioti, return as the people they played in Death to 2020. They do a fairly good job reprising their roles, especially Cristin Milioti, who appears to be having a blast parodying various “Karen” type people. Joe Keery’s social media popularity obsessed character is fine but doesn’t have enough bite to it. Samson Kayo’s hapless scientist doesn’t really have that many jokes directed at him, which makes him feel wasted. Hugh Grant’s history buff who mixes up movies and actual events is fine but some of his jokes are spoiled when the “interviewer” tries to correct him. The joke would land much better if they didn’t have to explain it to the viewer. I do love what they did with Diane Morgan’s character, a “typical” British citizen, as she actually gets a weird love story arc throughout it all.
While the previous characters are generally fine, it’s the new characters that are introduced here that suck. Tracey Ullman returns but, sadly, not as Queen Elizabeth. Her new character is a right wing news pundit that does come off as a little bit too obvious for my liking. Stockard Channing’s veteran left-wing news reporter is supposed to show how sensasionalism in the news is bad but never really hits home as well. The worst is Lucy Liu’s news reporter. The joke is she’s there for every big news story it’s never really done in a funny way. This means there are a total of 3 news reporters and they don’t really pack a punch.
Once again, it’s mostly up to Laurence Fishburn’s narration to really salvage things. Like in Death to 2020, I really like his deadpan delivery on everything here. Even if the situation is supposed to seem incredibly dire like the resurgence of the pandemic or super silly such as rich people launching themselves into the upper echelons of space in a phallic-shaped rocket, he treats them equally, which does add to the humor. Since I can’t find an actual clip of it, I’ll just insert the obligatory Austin Powers meme here.
Like Death to 2020, Death to 2021 is definitely not for everyone. There are going to be some people who will get upset as the mockumentary… mocks them. A lot of them take the events depicted in the film very seriously as it’s already a part of their very being. They will feel personally attacked as they’re shown to be idiots here. The sad thing is the balance seems a little more skewed this time around. Death to 2020 came off as a little more balanced all around. The worst they do is make fun of the democratic President of the United States’ age and how he’s a ghost. That’s about it. I do wish it poked fun at both sides more evenly.
However, the biggest problem I have with Death to 2021 is it’s not as funny as it can be. It feels a little too restrained and afraid to step over the line. Basically, it feels much more tame than it should be. It should’ve been more harsh to add more biting commentary on what a crappy year 2021 was. Because of that reason, I can’t really recommend Death to 2021. I guess it’s a good enough recap of what happened the previous year (minus Netflix plugging Bridgerton and Squid Game). If you’re hoping to laugh at what a dumpster fire 2021 was, look elsewhere.
What did you think of Death to 2021? Let me know in the comments section below!