Charlie Brooker has released a first look at his surprise Netflix mockumentary Death to 2020, which boasts a star-studded cast including Samuel L Jackson, Hugh Grant and Lisa Kudrow.
Set for release on December 27, the mockumentary will see the cast – which also includes Stranger Things‘ Joe Keery, Leslie Jones and Kumail Nanjiani – play a series of “experts, politicos, monarchs and average citizens” as they look back at 2020.
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Grant is made up as “repellent” historian Tennyson Foss, Kudrow takes on the role of ‘non-official spokesperson Jeanetta Grace Susan while Tracey Ullman plays the Queen.
“A year whose story couldn’t be told until now because it was still happening,” the voiceover says, explaining that the film is the “definitive story of the most historic year in history”.
— Charlie Brooker (@charltonbrooker) December 21, 2020
“I’d say it was a trainwreck and a shit show, but that would be unfair to trains and shit,” Jones later declares.
Death to 2020 also stars Truth Seekers‘ Samson Kayo as scientist Pyrex Flask, Philomena Cunk actress Diane Morgan as citizen Gemma Nerrick, Palm Springs‘ Cristin Milioti as soccer mom Kathy Flowers and Laurence Fishburne as the narrator.
“Those who only know me through Black Mirror may not realize that when not writing speculative sci-fi about people frowning at smartphones, I’ve spent years making comedy shows in the UK – including many topical comedy specials,” Brooker said.
“So to me, Death to 2020 feels like the collision of several different strands. (Do strands ‘collide’? No. Apologies). But the approach for this is quite different to most of the topical comedy I’ve done in the past. For one thing I’m not on screen presenting it – a relief for anyone watching in 4K – and it’s more character-based.
“In the loneliest year on record, I got to work (remotely) with writers and team members from my previous comedies, as well as many sickeningly talented people who were new to me.”
He added: “Death to 2020 features fictional characters discussing real events in a bombastic mockumentary, but quite a bit sillier than that makes it sound. It felt like an apt format for Netflix, which is known for high-end documentaries, but also like a good opportunity to create a different kind of comedy special that deals with the year head-on while also showcasing some brilliant performers.
“I don’t love the word ‘satire’ but there’s some of that here, alongside some angry jokes, and some goofy jokes. And hopefully viewers will find at least one joke to their liking — because let’s face it, in 2020, any laugh you can emit, no matter how fleeting, is a small but precious victory.”
Speaking recently, Grant teased Death to 2020 in an interview with New York Magazine, saying: “Charlie Brooker has written a mockumentary about 2020. It’s for Netflix.”
He explained that he was playing “a historian who’s being interviewed about the year. I’m pretty repellent, actually! And you’ll like my wig.”
The last three-episode series of Black Mirror was released in 2019, which was preceded in 2018 by interactive special Bandersnatch.