Insert excuses for not talking about this series sooner here. Do forgive, loyal readers. Many days overdue, we’ll talk about Documentary Now! now.
What this series is, is amazing. There’s no question about it. Hence, IFC renewing it for two more seasons before the premiere of the first episode. They have tremendous faith in the minds behind this show, as well they should. I doubt anyone would think a ship helmed by Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, and Fred Armisen could be steered wrong. Unless you hate them. Which most likely means you’re bitter about them having the career you want.
Sucks you for. I like them.
They set out to create mockumentaries based on high-profile documentaries, while recreating their styles as much as possible. And so far (granted, we’re only one episode into the initial 6-episode run, but…), they’ve succeeded. Immensely.
First up is the infamous Grey Gardens, the 1975 doc portraying the lives of mother-daughter hermit duo living in their dilapidated East Hampton mansion. If you’ve had the pleasure (or displeasure, depending on your perspective) of watching the original tale of Big & Little Edie Beale, you should undoubtedly enjoy Documentary Now! as Meyers et al. lovingly painted a picture of Big & Little Vivvy in their home, Sandy Passage. By “lovingly,” of course, I mean “meticulously.” And by “painted a picture,” I mean “created a sufficiently creepy found footage short horror film.”
I, myself, found the original documentary rather touching. Yes, both Edies had a loud relationship (the nicest way I can think to put it), but that’s just the way some people communicate. The New Yorker in me understands screaming at a relative simply because the louder you are, the better they’ll understand. (…Right?) They enjoyed their memories more than creating new ones. Or, at least they did when the documentary was made. Mothers die and children move on and time passes and changes are forced upon us. It happens. And it happened to our misses Beale. It’s worth noting, however, that when Little Edie was able to sell the home, she did it with the caveat that it never be torn down. That strikes me, again, as wanting to preserve memories. No matter what they are.
See? Sort of touching, am I right?
Having said that… I could definitely see how one could find the creepiness in that documentary. I could list the reasons why, but they’re now on film in the form of the first Documentary Now! episode. They’ve taken every reason to possibly be even slightly scared of Grey Gardens and turned it into a genius 21-minute piece of entertainment. The show is billed as a comedy, which it is, but don’t expect many laugh-out-louds unless you’ve seen Grey Gardens. Essentially, you have to be in on the joke. I assume this is why they’ve chosen more prolific documentaries to affectionately poke fun at. If you haven’t seen them, though, it just gives you an excuse to watch more things. And who’s mad at that? Don’t threaten me with a good time, I say.
So, in summation: If you find funny people funny, you’ll enjoy Documentary Now! If, on top of laughing at funny people, you sincerely enjoy documentaries, you’ll thoroughly enjoy Documentary Now! If, on top of laughing at bitches and watching non-fiction, you also love getting the shit scared out of you by found footage horror films, you’ll enjoy Documentary Now! ten-fold. (Or the first episode at least.)
Also, Helen Fucking Mirren hosts the show. Did I forget to mention that?
It’s a pretty big deal.