‘Documentary Now!’ is the most indescribable and original comedy on television today

AMC+ premieres today in Spain the fourth season of ‘Documentary Now!’, one of the most indescribable comedies on television today and, also, one of the most original because, who thought it was a good idea to parody the most prestigious documentaries of the last decades? And that, in addition, Helen Mirren presents them as if everything were real.

For Marina Such – 29 Dec 2022

Documentary Now! is an American public television program that has been on the air for 53 seasons, broadcasting some of the most prestigious and successful documentaries. Its host is Helen Mirren, which gives it an added patina of respectability. That would be, anyway, if the show was real, but it isn’t. She came out of the head Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Rhys Thomasall old classmates Saturday night Live with great fondness for parodies so close to the original, which are almost more tributes.

The fourth season of the series arrives today on AMC+ and is a great example not only of the type of comedy that these four make, but also of the pull it has among well-known actors who volunteer to participate in their parodies. From a first installment in which Armisen and Hader played almost all the characters, it has gone on to a fourth in which we find Alexander Skarsgaard, Harriet Walter, and Cate Blanchettwhich was already a transcript of the artist Marina Abramovic in the third installment.

As for independent comedy and for a very specific audience, Documentary Now! takes the cake because those who can enjoy it the most are the viewers of feature films such as, for example, When we were kings, which recounted the boxing match in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (then Zaire) between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, and which in the series is transformed into a story about a stone fight in Wales. The type of cinematography used is reproduced, the format in which the story is narrated, and it is usual to choose to give a serious and transcendental treatment to something totally trivial and absurd.

It is a tone similar to that of many of the sketches from the previous series co-created by Armisen with Carrie Brownstein, portlandiain which they parodied many of the elements that constitute the identity hipster and modern. They could extract oil from a kilometric tail to eat in a local brunch.

What distinguishes Documentary Now! is the metareferential layer. It is fun to see, for example, Alexander Skarsgaard transformed into a version of the director Werner Herzog in search of stories that are as realistic as possible, often in extreme environments, or that well-known Broadway actors populate the parody of the documentary on the musical disc recording Company with its original cast.

Documentaries with Agnès Varda also have a place in 'Documentary Now!
Documentaries with Agnès Varda also have a place in ‘Documentary Now!

The series laughs at what usually attracts the most attention from those documentaries, but many times achieves exactly the same thing for which they achieved success. The father-son relationship Juan likes rice & chicken ends up being as emotional as the one told by the parodied documentary, Jiro dreams of sushi. It can be difficult to distinguish one from the other, if it weren’t for that absurd look that tends to preside over the fictions in which their creators participate.

Documentary Now! It’s not easy to describe, but it clearly is. one of the most original comedies that we can currently see. His episodes vary wildly in tone, subject matter, and even humor, and it’s admirable that he pays so much attention to detail just for laughs at those documentaries, rather than at them.

‘Documentary Now!’ is the most indescribable and original comedy on television today