Arts, Movies, Review

Sarah Cooper’s Satirical Special Comes Too Soon

Impending climate doom. The struggle of Zoom conference calls. Questionable coronavirus cures. Comedian Sarah Cooper’s debut Netflix special Everything’s Fine hits all the hot topics—it even riffs on the mysterious murder hornets during a parody depicting a morning talk show struggling to survive in 2020. But the 49-minute special, which came out on Thursday and was directed by Natasha Lyonne, hits too close to home. The heavy humor doesn’t distract or relieve the audience from these trying times. Trading belly laughs for knowing groans and anxious head-scratching, viewers will not find much comedic relief when watching this show. 

Playing a desperately cheery morning show host, Cooper reports on events that are all too familiar. The special jumps around between news updates from Cooper, short sketches with special guests, and absurd COVID-19-related advertisements. In one advertisement, a supposed medical professional (Jon Hamm) endorses a pillow that cures the virus when you rest your head on it at night. Scattered throughout the whole show are clips of Cooper lip-synching to sound-bytes of President Donald Trump discussing the coronavirus and harping on himself. In one segment, Cooper struts across a golf course, using exaggerated gestures and facial expressions to mock the president.

Cooper began her career in comedy doing stand-up around New York as she was working at Google. After quitting her job and struggling to find work as a comedian for years, Cooper finally found success when her Trump lip-syncing videos went viral at the beginning of the pandemic. In videos uploaded to her YouTube channel and TikTok account, the comedian expressively lip-syncs to the president’s most unclear and bizarre statements. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Cooper explained that amid the boredom of quarantine, she was intentionally trying to create viral content.

Mocking the production of early morning talk shows, the special features brightly colored sets, tacky green screen use, and garish fonts that contrast with the weighty comedic material Cooper deals with. Cooper leans into the excessively enthusiastic host character in one sketch as she attempts to learn how to twerk from one of her guests, Megan Thee Stallion. Initially these details might elicit a laugh, but the sketches drag on and the incessant enthusiasm of the host becomes tiring to watch. 

The show mainly depends on its litany of celebrity cameos. Jane Lynch plays a classic Karen in a cooking segment on Cooper’s show. Maya Rudolph appears as a manic meteorologist. Winona Ryder is a retired and crazed talk show host who incessantly asks what’s happened in the country during the years she’s been gone. But these celebrity cameos don’t save the special. In one cringe-worthy sketch, Cooper plays a magician attempting to perform card games for an audience seated in their cars and socially distanced in a parking lot. The premise of the sketches may seem humorous, but they drag on and the jokes fall flat. 

The special, however, does contain some important political messages that are cleverly highlighted with humor. Whoopi Goldberg narrates a segment about the history of Karens. An infomercial host (Aubrey Plaza) sells Indoctrination Porcelain Dolls targeted toward online conspiracy theorists. One satirical segment depicts the president reacting to Cooper’s talk show on his Twitter, and before Cooper transitions to the next skit, she deadpans, “More on these tweets as they continue to suck the life out of our democracy.”

As the show nears the end, the morning show and host Cooper begin to unravel. Her obnoxious executive producers (Marcella Arguello and Eddie Pepitone) watch as Cooper smiles her way through endless news updates and manufactured pleasantry, repeating through her perfect news anchor pearly whites that “everything’s fine.” But when she remembers how all the days seemed to blend together in quarantine, Cooper descends into madness. 

Seeing all these recent and ongoing disasters shoved into one special is almost overwhelming. In contrast to memes and TikToks that provide small doses of parody on today’s most pressing problems, Cooper tries to summarize the events of this past year in a lengthy special and fails to entertain. Everything’s Fine may be a show to return to in 10 years, when we can hopefully laugh at Cooper’s satirical special and the tragic ridiculousness of 2020. 

Photo Courtesy of Netflix

November 1, 2020