At the risk of sounding like a broken record, 2020 has not exactly been a stupendous year. Actually, that is an understatement. Not only has 2020 been a huge dumpster fire, it seems like someone has set fire to the entire dump. One bright spot has been comedian Sarah Cooper and her social media platforms used to showcase her Trump lip sync videos. Cooper has been a comedian and author for many years, but her new videos launched her to superstardom while we were all locked away in our homes looking for anything to entertain us. There was no question that somebody would jump at the opportunity to bring her in for a special. That somebody, of course, is Netflix. This special, in many ways, sums up the entire year: it starts off on a normal note and then slowly spirals into craziness minute after minute.
In Sarah Cooper: Everything’s Fine, Cooper is put in the anchor’s chair of her own morning news program called Everything’s Fine. Using the morning news show as a framing device to bring in a plethora of guests, characters and sketch opportunities, Cooper and crew are able to pack so much into what is right now a one-off special that is under an hour long. The sketches all feature Cooper in some way, shape or form as she takes us on a tour of the insanity that has been this past year. These sketches cover everything from the My Pillow guy creating a COVID vaccine out of pillows, (played by the scary good Jon Hamm), the history of “Karens,” a QAnon trade show, drive-in entertainment, and so much more. These are tightly written sketches that would be the best ones on any given SNL episode this season and spotlight Cooper as a wonderful sketch performer beyond just her TikTok creations.
All these sketches are tied together by the morning show setting, where Cooper and her producer, played by Fred Armisen wearing many different face shields, are trying their best to keep the show going among all the world’s absurdity and new production protocols. Cooper is forced to smile and keep an upbeat attitude about everything that is happening around her. The longer she does this, the more the show dives into madness. Even as Maya Rudolph’s character breaks from reporting the weather to rant about how every other day is a new disaster, Cooper keeps the brave, giant grin on her face. The in-between moments of banter between her and Armisen generate some of the special’s funniest lines and make a strong case for an entire season-long show just to see the two of them play off of each other more.
What the special could have done without are the Trump lip syncs. It is understandable why certain segments of the show included them. After all, this is what the general public mostly knows Cooper for. A special like this, though, should help her evolve beyond that and be the springboard she needs to leave that part of her act behind. Even a bit as technically funny as the Access Hollywood Tour Bus sketch, which includes Oscar winner Helen Mirren, feels out of place compared to everything else going on because of how dated that infamous tape is.
Everything’s Fine is difficult to describe. I don’t think anybody who presses play will be able to predict all its bizarre twists and turns. It seems fitting, albeit cliché, that the ending would have a meteor hurdling towards Earth, but that might be why it ends up working. This year has been an unpredictable mess that we’re all just trying our best to navigate through. Sarah Cooper does her part in bringing a smile to the faces of everyone just doing their best and looking for joy anywhere they can find it.