Review: Death To 2020, Netflix, With Hugh Grant, Diane Morgan, Samuel L Jackson

Review: Death To 2020, Netflix

This is no doubt more my problem than Charlie Brooker's but I never thought I'd be disappointed by something Brooker was involved in. I even loved Nathan Barley. I'd been looing forward to Death To 2020 ever since it was announced. And every time i heard about another cast member I got more excited. Diane Morgan? Hugh Grant? Samuel L Jackson? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, only three things have gone wrong really. This is not an annual Newswipe made for the BBC for a British audience. I'm well aware it's just me being parochial but this glossy round-up feels like Brooker going global and somehow it doesn't sit well with him. I had an inkling of that watching the trailer when Saturday Night Live/Ghostbusters star Leslie Jones called 2020 a 'trainwreck' when I would have been happier – even though Jones is American – if she had used the more British terminology of 'car crash'. 

While it is not one of Brooker's annual Wipe overviews it loosely uses the same format of rattling through events, just with bigger stars between well-chosen clips and quips. Grant is undoubtedly on good form as a Game of Thrones-fixated fusty historian (pictured below). Samuel L Jackson links it neatly together as a fictional reporter but there is also a voiceover from Laurence Fishburne. I can understand that there may have been reasons why Brooker is not onscreen in his usual basement/bunker, but why couldn't he have as least narrated?

And because the show is aimed at a global audience it goes for the big picture events when I prefer Brooker going granular. At least this year there is one story that binds the planet together, but even with Covid it's an odd take for a UK viewer. If there was a mention of Barnard Castle I missed it and even Boris Johnson feels reduced to a supporting player alongside stories about Trump and – the best sequence by a mile - Black Lives Matter. As for the always brilliant Diane Morgan, she might as well be playing Philomena Cunk, but in fact plays another British thicko with a different name. 

Of ourse there are laughs here and of course the script - written with the help of a lot of talented UK-based comedians judging by the lengthy credits – has its moments. It's just that for me it felt overlong at 70 minutes and the tone was not quite right. I guess it's not Brooker, it's me – I tended to prefer his UK-based Black Mirrors to his American ones (though I did like those too). I guess i'm like those tedious music fans who will always prefer the early independent releases to the stadium tours. As Brooker would probably never say, my bad. At least it's not a car crash like 2020 itself.

Death To 2020, Netflix, With Hugh Grant, Diane Morgan, Samuel L Jackson is available now on

Pictures: netflix/broke and bones



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