If you’ve been on TikTok recently, you’ve probably heard a few trending sounds from Bo Burnham’s new Netflix special “Inside.” The special came out on Netflix on May 30, 2021 and ever since it’s been trending on social media and been the topic of many Gen Z conversations. What about this special hit so close to home for so many, and why should you watch it? Let’s chat.
Bo Burnham is a 30-year old comedian, song-writer, actor, director, and basically everything else under the sun. He’s been producing content for about 16 years, starting when he was only a young teenager. He created Youtube videos, Vines, and, at the age of 18, he even became the youngest person to have his own half-hour special on Comedy Central. He had booming success in his early life and was/is well-known by many for his comedy and directing. However, when Burnham released his newest special he received much more attention than usual. Why?
People who knew Bo Burnham were thrilled to hear he had a new special. His work has always been funny, entertaining and meta, but when they watched this particular special, many of them were caught off guard. The show begins on a light note, as expected, but as the show progresses there are instances where the audience feels something they didn’t expect to feel during a Bo Burnham special. They expected light-hearted comedy, but what they got was a gut-wrenchingly real account of his journey through the pandemic and the reality of anxiety and depression. Don’t get me wrong, I LMAOed upwards of 20 times during this special. But there’s a depth to it that spoke to so many people who had the shared experience of such an incredibly heavy year that made it so personal.
Something I find that much of Gen Z struggles with is activism: how to help, how to learn, how to change. With the events of June 2020 including the brutal murder of George Floyd, much of Gen Z took responsibility and action to become an antiracist force to stand in solidarity with the Black community. Dealing with such real and grave issues such as systemic racism, environmentalism, and political anxiety, all while living through a global pandemic, which tore them from their lives, created an extremely stressful environment for Gen Z. Burnham’s special includes a song called “How the World Works,” which candidly talks about the issues in America regarding several of these topics, and it really represents how ridiculous it is that these issues are still going on, and are for the most part largely ignored by politicians. Super stressful, but Bo Burnham is here for you.
In another one of the songs, “All Eyes on Me,” Burnham talks about his experience with anxiety and how it’s affected his career. He admits that it forced him to take years off performing live comedy, and he allows us to be a fly on the wall while he works through the pressure of creating “funny” content when everything in life can seem so… depressing. It’s not a secret that so many comedians cope with their own emotions and trauma through comedy, but in this special we actually see it firsthand.
The thing about this special, which I think especially appeals to Gen Z, is that it is a beautiful piece of art about how extraordinarily, dreadfully, deplorably bad everything is; but intertwined in genius comedy. Gen Z loves to cope with jokes. We laugh at our sadness because it makes it easier to talk about with each other. But when we’re alone in our rooms at night, it’s not funny anymore. This is what Bo Burnham’s special captures.
Published by Christina Giambattista
Christina (she/her) is an intern at Promly. She is a student at Boston University and she wants to make a difference in the mental health world.
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