What distinguishes a satire from a parody? A parody seeks to take an element of a beloved work and expand it in a comedic way. Satire dissects the bigger picture to reveal a deeper message about society and human nature, usually with a much more cynical, wicked, biting, and overall dark sense of humor.
While satire has grown over the years, many of the best examples in film and television have appeared in the past five years. tv shows like The White Lotusand Succession or movies like Parasite and sorry to disturb you presented a creative outlet for creators to dissect media and societal issues.
‘The White Lotus’ (2021-)
Each season of this show takes place at a different venue in the White Lotus resort chain. Whether in Hawaii or Sicily, the main story follows a week-long vacation made by various guests. As they attempt to relax, it quickly becomes apparent that something is wrong and tensions begin to reach a breaking point.
Besides the customers, the hotel and its employees have their secrets. So, if you ever want to stay at the white lotus, there is always the guarantee that you will never be the same when you leave.
The first non-English language film to win Best Picture at the Oscars is a satire that people won’t soon forget. A low-income family in South Korea is tired of living in a basement apartment, folding pizza boxes for a living. So to get ahead in life, they get jobs for a wealthy family living in a higher part of town.
By faking skills and taking advantage of the family’s ignorance, they succeed. But when they discover that their colleagues are hiding their own secrets, the question of who the real parasite is becomes more ambiguous.
A dark thriller with real bite. Tyler Leford (Nicolas Hoult), a snobby foodie, was invited to an exclusive fine-dining restaurant on a private island and brought along a companion named Margot (Anya Taylor Joy) with him. They are joined by movie stars, food critics, wealthy people and others who share Tyler’s attitude and interests.
However, once they arrive, it soon becomes apparent that the head chef (Ralph Fiennes) intends to kill them all by the end of the night with every new dish he brings. But Margot might have what it takes to make it out alive.
“Sorry to Bother You” (2018)
Green Cash (Lakeith Stanfield) is desperately looking for a new job to get out of his uncle’s garage. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to be successful when he becomes a telemarketer for a large corporation until he’s tasked with using his “white voice.” Using this new talent, he grows higher and higher through the ranks of the company. All the while, he gets involved with the company’s workers trying to organize a union.
This all comes to a head when Cash discovers the company has a horrible secret when it comes to treating its employees. But will this literal dehumanization give them the strength to fight back?
“The Death of Stalin” (2017)
A self-proclaimed comedy of terrors, it takes an amusing look at one of the bloodiest periods in human history. For nearly 30 years, Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin) ruled the Soviet Union with an iron fist, ordering the death of all who stood in his way. So people should always be careful around him, otherwise they risk life-threatening consequences. And then he dies.
Suddenly, the central committee is thrown into chaos as Russian politicians try to seize what power remains. Realized by Veep Creator Armando Ianucci, it is put together with its characteristic blend of political satire and dark humor.
“Don’t Look Up” (2021)
Two scientists (Leonardo DiCaprio and Jenifer Lawrence) discover that a comet is about to hit the earth. If it comes into contact, all life on earth will be destroyed. It is up to them to warn the world. The problem is that the world either doesn’t care, seeks to keep the comet intact for personal gain, or outright denies that the comet even exists.
Much of the film’s social commentary draws from more recent responses to things like global warming and the pandemic. Inspired by people like Dr Strangelove and Network, Adam McKay creates a funny but devastating portrayal of what could happen if we don’t trust the experts.
‘Kevin Can Fuck Himself’ (2021-22)
Many beloved sitcoms contain tropes and ideas that would be considered creepy, weird, and mean when brought to life. But what would happen if a character from such a series began to recognize him? For example, Allison (Annie Murphy) is stuck in a marriage with the rude man-child Kevin (Eric Peterson).
In front of the others, in a multi-camera sitcom setup, it’s all funny, with laughs from an unseen studio audience. But in Allison’s private, more cinematic setup, she’s grown to resent her marriage and is desperate to turn her life around. And she will do anything to make sure Kevin is out of her life.
“The Boys” (2019-)
In a world full of superheroes, there is one team that reigns above them all – The Seven. They are shining examples of heroism, bravery and kindness. But behind closed doors, they indulge in acts of hedonism, depravity, and downright sociopathic behavior.
So it’s up to a rogue group of vigilante criminals to stop them and the company they work for – Vought. Based on comics by Garth Ennis and darick robertson, it gleefully and violently dissects the conventional tropes of superhero stories. Instead, it puts them in a world where the almighty dollar rules everything, power corrupts, and most people are not pure in heart.
The Weystar RoyCo media empire is run by the Roy family, led by their patriarch, Logan Roy (Brian Cox). But as the older man’s health begins to decline, the family must take the lead.
Of course, due to being raised in such a beneficial environment, each member of this dynasty is spoiled to the core and will do anything to get what they want. Soon they begin a mad scramble full of back beatings and deception to gain a foothold in the business.
What We Do in the Shadows – The Series (2019-)
While eyeing the side of straight parody, this series does a satirical dismantling of the image of vampires. Based on the beloved 2014 film by Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement, this series follows a group of vampires living in shared accommodation in what is now Staten Island. Plus, it parodies endless amounts of pop culture portrayals of vampires, from Nosferatus to Dusk.
But in doing so, it reveals a sobering truth: vampires are time-locked beings, unable to grow emotionally as people and learn from their mistakes, and unable to adapt appropriately to a modern era. In other words, being a vampire really sucks.
NEXT:5 Great Satirical Movies To Watch After ‘The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent’