Thursday, March 31, 2016

Documentary Now: Bending Fact and Fiction

When I sprawled out on Erica's bed last weekend to indulge in the luxury of her Roku TV while she was out of town, the last thing I expected to see on Netflix was a series of fake documentaries starring Bill Heder and Fred Armisen. I nearly spit out the sour gummy worm I was sucking on.

For those of you who don't know, Documentary Now! is an IFC series that has had just one season thus far. Helen Mirren is the host, and Lorne Michaels is attached (those are some big names, folks). Each episode is a self-contained mockumentary in the style of a well-known real one. The first episode, for example, entitled "Sandy Passage," parodies the mother-daughter hoarders of Grey Gardens. Cameras follow Hader and Armisen, both in drag, around their dusty, cat-ridden, sun-soaked cottage.

The show had me laughing at and loving it. I watched another episode, about the falling out of a rock band in the 70s, which was just as good as--though completely different from--"Sandy Passage." The combination of Heder and Armisen's comedic abilities + the overall format of the series is a win in my book, and I plan on continuing with the rest of the season. I recommend this show to anyone who likes documentaries or sketch comedy shows, as Documentary Now! feels like a little bit of both.

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