'Death To 2021' proves that Charlie Brooker really needs to bring back 'Black Mirror'
Once again, if there wasn't such a strong cast taking swipes at the happenings of 2021, the whole thing would be unwatchable. Having said that, however, there isn't much you're missing out on if you do end up ignoring 'Death To 2021' completely.
Taking last year's 'Death To 2020' model and re-hashing it for a new year, round two of the Charlie Brooker satire tackles the year that included serious happenings such as the Capitol riot in January, the Olympics, and of course that virus that is still spreading across the world. It also references the lighter topics of the year like the 'Squid Game' memes, Bond's 'No Time To Die' finally being released and the 93rd Academy Awards proving to be "even bleaker than 'Seaspiracy'." This final topic takes a spin on the "Stars We've Lost In The Past Year" segment and instead shows a slideshow of those who have been cancelled this year - including Armie Hammer, Gina Carano, J.K. Rowling and Mr. Potato Head.
With narrator Laurence Fishburne on hand once again, these news stories are told through his booming voice with the on-screen characters chiming in with a satirical joke every now and again. Hugh Grant, Diane Morgan, Christin Milioti, Joe Keery and Samson Kayo all return as their respective characters. New additions this time around include Lucy Liu as a straight-talking Washington correspodant, Snook Austin; William Jackson Harper as Zero Fournine, the CEO of the fictional social network, Yipyakker; and Stockard Channing as a journalist named Penn Parker. Tracey Ullman also makes a notable return, no longer as The Queen, but this time around playing a scaremongering TV anchor not too dissimilar from the people we see on US television.
It's all well and good having a pretty great cast in something such as this, but there's only so much they can do with each of their respective characters. Diane Morgan's Gemma is a welcome face to see once again, as her empty-headed character goes from dotty to outright absurd; Christin Milioti's Kathy Flowers also makes the natural progression to being one of the rioters at Capitol Hill last January, showing her "peaceful support" (which translates to spreading her faeces on the walls). It's always the unhinged personas that work best in a satire such as this, and so Lucy Liu's Washington correspondent, unfortunately, comes across as dull as dishwater, becoming lost in the mix with her straight-laced responses.
'Death To 2021' won't set the world alight, nor will it be memorable enough for you to remember tomorrow morning, but it is nice to see an attempt at looking at the brighter side of the year that was, broadly speaking, worse than 2020.
Please, Mr. Brooker, if you're reading this, concentrate on a new season of 'Black Mirror' than another 'Death To 2022' next year. We don't care how bleak the episodes will be, and we know some are sure to be, but we reckon they'll be a far superior escape than having to relive another miserable year of living through a global pandemic.
'Death To 2021' is available to stream on Netflix now.