Sarah Cooper gets a Netflix comedy special, showing her existential angst goes deeper than just Donald Trump.
Tik Tok brought us Sarah Cooper and her famous lip syncing mockery of the President’s more unhinged speeches. When word came down from Netflix that they were giving her a special, many assumed she’d lean heavily on the impersonation that made her famous. While she does take opportunities to roast Trump, she shows a wider, and weirder, comedic arsenal.
Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine (2020)
Sarah Cooper is the lead anchor on the morning talk show, Everything’s Fine. Unfortunately for Sarah, the very thought of “everything’s fine” is starting to unravel her sanity. It also doesn’t help that due to Donald Trump live-tweeting reactions to her show, she’s being forced by her producers to cater to his caprices.
Those worried that the show would turn into a Frank Caliendo impressions marathon should rest easy. The show quickly announces itself as having much more in common with Saturday Night Live than the Late Show. We proceed through several different sketches, most premised on either being segments of the morning show, the backstage maneuvering of the crew and management, or commercials for other fictional shows/product placements.
The affinity to SNL becomes quickly obvious when you see the supporting cast: Maya Rudolph does the weather, Fred Armisen is the stage manager, and Jane Lynch is the first guest. Other comedy heavy-weights and frequent SNL guest hosts include Jon Hamm, Ben Stiller, Aubrey Plaza, and Tommy Davidson.
What sets Everything’s Fine apart from SNL is the dedicated oddness of it all. Sarah Cooper’s tone and delivery would be more in line with the Tim and Eric show on Late Night Swim than NBC. Its message of the constant anxiety of the Trump era bleeds through every aspect of the show. Even Jon Hamm’s goofy My Pillow Guy impersonation gets existential when he starts selling injectable My Pillow Anti Covid treatments. Several bits are so unhinged I was reminded of the extremely weird Kuso, which also used faux-newscasting as a jumping off point to satirize our world. Luckily, Sarah doesn’t get bogged down in the same fetishes that movie indulged in.
The constant angst and incredulity is the star of the show, metaphorically and literally. We’re experiencing Sarah reflect back that dread. It might seem that the defining moment would come when Sarah discovers that her executive producer is actually Satan, making her the perky morning show host for hell. The real skit that exemplifies it comes halfway through where Sarah is forced to engage Trump twitter-stalking the show: she hates it, it’s pure verbal diarrhea, but it gets ratings so the producers won’t cut away.
It’s Fun to Be in Hell…
I guess at the end of the day, Sarah Cooper manages to jiu-jitsu expectations based on her reputation for lyp-syncing Trump. Even though many of the skits are scripted and not synced, they all come off as feeling very plausibly lifted from real quotations. When Aubrey Plaza hocks Ivanka dolls on Qanon-VC, it has the same desperate mannerisms Sarah uses to impersonate Trump…and feels just as fatalistically destined to actually be true.
Not every bit lands: Jane Lynch’s Cooking with Karen is a bit too on-the-nose and generic. The tone can veer around a bit, with some bits light-hearted ribbing and other’s deadly serious critique. At the end of the day, the sheer variety keeps the proceedings fresh, and Sarah’s deliberate pacing makes Everything’s Fine feel like the most satisfying doom-scrolling not actually involving a phone.