During the season finale of Last Week Tonight, in what was an expensive and very destructive final stunt, host John Oliver blew up a giant 2020 statue. As he walked away, we watched the number ignite, combust, and disintegrate — and it was a delight.
As Jews, 2021 isn’t technically our new year — it’s 5781, after all! — but all of us have felt the strain of this here Georgian calendar year. The beautifully symmetric number that is 2020 has come to represent to us all that is wrong with the world: from pandemics to political messes to systemic racism, 2020 had it all. We lost so much this year, and while 2021 does bring the hope of the vaccine, we still have quite a bit of… all this to endure.
So is our anger at the number rightfully directed? Or is it weird to just be mad at the human-created concept that just meant to mark the passage of time? Who knows, but it sure feels good to hate on 2020.
In a new comedy special that came out this week on Amazon Prime, Yearly Departed, a group of hilarious and awe-inspiring comedians in stylish black outfits do just that. They eulogize all that we have lost in this objectively dumpster fire of a year in a surreal, cooky, and utterly enjoyable wake for 2020 — before we bury it forever (though it will continue to haunt our memories into eternity).
Yearly Departed is not uproariously funny — but it is a lot of fun. And the pleasurable Jewish touches in it really add to the viewing experience, from Tiffany Haddish’s Star of David necklace (a gift from Babs, no less), which she dons while very convincingly and hilariously mourning the loss of casual sex (Haddish started dating rapper Common during the pandemic), to Sarah Silverman joking about how 2021 will be better for Jews: “Sorry we will replace you,” she says, updating the horrifying white supremacist chant from the march in Charlottesville in 2017, but adding that it will only happen once we figure our whole shtick of controlling the weather.
Writer Bess Kalb — who was a beloved guest on Kveller’s podcast, Call Your Mother — was part of the creative team behind the show, which, at a mere 44 minutes, is a fun New Years’ treat created by and starring only women. It’s truly an incredible team, with Rachel Brosnahan (aka Mrs. Maisel) nodding along in the crowd through all the excellent monologues and Jewish comedian Natasha Leggero bringing the prerequisite and all-too-real rant about pandemic parenting — like the struggles of getting your little ones to wear masks, the nonstop injuries, and the constant heckling from our children as we are stuck at home together. (They’re like “a suspended Reddit user,” she laments). Plus, Christina Aguilera makes a surprise appearance at the end.
If you’re looking for something to watch while you drink and eat this year away after the little ones go to bed, Yearly Departed is an excellent option. And if that’s not enough year-end catharsis for you, you can just watch this John Oliver video on repeat: