Netflix review: Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine
James R | On 25, Nov 2020
Everything’s Fine. It’s hard to think of two words less appropriate for 2020, which, of course, is entirely the point of Sarah Cooper’s Netflix special. The comic has shot to fame this year thanks to her knack for tapping into the absurdity of the current state of the world, with her videos of lip-syncing to Donald Trump recordings repeatedly going viral. It’s fitting, then, that her Netflix debut should harness that surreal yet shrewd tone, with Cooper at its centre trying to act like all is normal.
Here, she casts herself as a fictional newsreader on a morning TV show, who is attempting to hold the fort together as it increasingly falls apart. It’s a smart approach from the TikTok star, swerving more conventional stand-up comedy for a format that matches her quick-fire bursts of short-form skits. A combination of her profile and Netflix’s backing has rounded up a seriously impressively line-up of celebrities, with everyone from Whoopi Goldberg and Jon Hamm to Helen Mirren making an appearance.
The result is, like any sketch show, a hit and miss affair, but the former is more frequent than the latter, whether it’s Ben Stiller playing a robotic CEO with a mildly creepy deadpan or a Mar-a-Lago send-up that’s wonderfully observed, not to mention a no-holds-barred QAnon shopping channel. That all of this is produced during a global pandemic is impressively easy to forget, thanks to the astute and inventive direction of Natasha Lyonne – who perfectly tees up a witty cameo by Fred Armisen as the news programme’s cameraman, donning increasingly extreme PPE to stay safe while filming.
At the heart of it all, Cooper proves to be a game performer, bringing a physical energy to a vignette about a close-magician trying to do the drive-in circuit. But she’s at her best when keeping things contained and low-key. It’s a bold move to cast yourself as the proverbial straight man, yet Cooper turns that decision into part of the show’s pointed commentary, as her wide-eyed facial expressions convey the horror beneath the surface of her seemingly composed anchor – an anchor that’s slowly aware that it’s drifting out to sea. The result is a unique comedy special, not only because of the meteoric rise of its star but also because it serves as the most 2020 comedy show of 2020, a time capsule that in 10 years’ time could well seem like the least ridiculous thing to happen this year.
Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.