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Documentary Now!

IFC’s hyper-specific documentary parody still exists. Thank goodness.

From “Original Cast Album: Co-op,” a Sondheim/Pennebaker spoof. IFC
Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

It’s easy to appreciate the ferocity with which IFC’s gleefully silly Documentary Now!, now in its third season, takes on nonfiction filmmaking. Every episode mocks a different famous documentary, with Saturday Night Live vets Fred Armisen, Bill Hader, and Seth Meyers (who all co-created the series) making gleeful hash of everything from The War Room to Stop Making Sense to (in a brilliant recent episode) the documentary about the recording of the original cast album for the musical Company. And many of their famous friends, from John Mulaney to Cate Blanchett, stop by.

Sometimes the show is too content to lean on the fact that it’s making fun of documentaries, and don’t you think that’s weird?! But then something wholly unexpected will happen, and the everything will come together in sublimely stupid ways.

Plus, Helen Mirren serves as host!

“Documentary Now! is better than it’s ever been: absurd, joyful, and characteristically precise. And the new episodes still manage to pick thoughtfully at the intentions and methods of filmmakers, particularly when it comes to portraying genius.” Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic

Metacritic Score: 88 out of 100

Where to watch: New episodes of Documentary Now! air on Wednesdays at 11 pm Eastern on IFC. Previous seasons are streaming on Netflix.

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