(Photo Courtesy of Netflix, Inc.)
After a five-year hiatus from live comedy, Bo Burnham made a surprising return to the entertainment world. Filmed entirely in one room of his house and completely solo, his new Netflix special “Inside” is a look at Burnham’s experience with COVID-19 quarantine and his anxieties regarding his return to comedy.
The special took the internet by storm, with songs such as “Welcome to the Internet” and “Bezos I” becoming trending TikTok sounds within days. Why exactly was this special so powerful? The answer comes with Burnham’s quirky existentialism, which many viewers felt was relatable.
With 2020’s isolation came a lot of uncertainty and time for self-evaluation, something that made a lot of us feel alone. “Inside” proves that we are not alone and our feelings are nearly universal.
The special won three Emmy awards, including Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special. For a special entirely put together by one person, this number of awards speaks volumes about the creator. Burnham’s commentary on subjects from isolation to racial injustice provides a snapshot of what it was like to live through 2020’s unprecedented times.
The real impact comes from Burnham’s showing of raw emotion, and the look into his creative process while creating this film. He shows the struggle of taking on this project all alone, the desire to keep it to himself and not finish the special and the toll that returning to comedy post-isolation took on his mental health.
He describes his mental health as being at an all-time low and uses his art as a way to deal with and express these feelings. The order of his songs and topics feels random in a way that mimics one’s train of thought. It stays true to the expression of his emotional turmoil that he kept as the focus of the film.
The social commentary is another aspect of this special that will keep it relevant. From the shallow values of social media to white supremacy and racial injustice, Burnham has something to say about everything. From other viral hits like “White Woman’s Instagram” to the Sesame Street parody “How the World Works”, social commentary is weaved into “Inside’s” catchy songs and provides a reflection on all that came out of 2020.
Any fans of Bo Burnham’s previous comedy will enjoy this special. His use of music to entertain is reminiscent of his earlier pre-hiatus specials and the content that brought him to fame almost 15 years ago. Those who struggled with COVID-19 quarantine and the persistent loneliness that came with it will find comfort with “Inside”.
Burnham’s exploration of the effects of isolation and constant cycling of news and information on the mind is a struggle that many will find familiar, and to know that you are not alone in dealing with these issues is comforting to know.
Overall, a special like “Inside” can be watched again and again, while still noticing new things each time. Good luck with getting “Welcome to the Internet” out of your head after watching!
Overall Rating: A