Sitting down, scrolling on my phone (specifically on Tik Tok), I found myself witnessing multiple accounts recommending I view the new Bo Burnham comedy special, Inside, on Netflix. There was a side note continually included from these individuals…to make sure I'm mentally ready to watch it. I could understand, many of his specials are often hilarious but also include commentary on some harsh or weird realities in our society/world. Dealing with the combination of the pandemic's isolating effects combined with previously established mental illnesses, I felt torn but knew I needed to watch it because for some reason my gut was telling me to do so.
There's something incredibly soothing, but at the same time upsetting, about Burnham's comedy special. It both allows people to grieve a lost year, progressing social expectations and so much more. Right away I felt like crying, I felt seen through and through like many others who watched it. The editing, the lighting, the effects, the dedication to showing the roughest parts of creativity was brilliant. As an artist myself, painting and such outside of my writing, the mind can be a rough place for those not seen by the neurotypical world or dismissed by the ableism so ingrained in us. Inside looks at the arts (which can be such a wide variety of categories from comedy itself to the simplest paintings or designs) as they try to find their importance and place in current society.
Burnham maintains both an awareness of his privileges and the realities of his own struggles with mental health. Doing so with such brilliant editing and general dedication to smart songwriting, I found myself getting lost (in a good way) to the sights and sounds. The randomness of it all felt very similar to the time during this pandemic, finding a new path to land on, a new way to view life going forward. The amount of easter eggs in this special is incredible, with one big one being the whiteboard towards the beginning that reflects on "Comedy" specifically. No one is safe, yet it feels like the safest and most comforting piece of media I've viewed in a long time. I laughed, fell silent, acknowledged my own internal struggles, and felt the power of letting yourself accept happiness when it comes along, no matter how small it may be.
Burnham acknowledges problematic past choices and the importance of holding accountability for those things. The production quality is beyond words, honestly, some segments being better than some of my favorite music videos. The gut-wrenching and relatable portion documenting his turning 30 years old stuck with me and many others. I think the special was meant to have mixed reactions, with some realizing the depth of their mental illness and others finally seeing the light/future because they knew they weren't alone in their feelings. Life has been weird for a good chunk of us, being fed a lie that we should be expected of things the same as generations before we were expected to accomplish. Inside isn't careful about displaying the shitty realities of mental health and the current status of the economy. Burnham gave me and others a signal, a quick glance, making sure we knew that being alone was never truly the case. Also, what if dogs could vape?
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