Spitting Image is back! The mercilessly vicious puppet show from 1980s British television has been revived for the 21st Century, specifically the Trump era, the Brexit era, the Big Tech era, and the Social Media era. And it's on YouTube! Yes, that's right… YouTube!
Available only on the Britbox streaming service, the new episodes are now available a few days after the broadcast to stream on the official Spitting Image YouTube Channel. As of this writing, all four episodes to date are available. The 4th episode feels like the show is comfortably settling in its stride.
Just like in the 80s, the Fluck & Law show has no sacred cows. Spitting Image creates grotesque puppets of public figures and absolutely refuses to pander or flatter any of them. Unlike American Comedy, it has no desire to be loved. It wants you to hate these public figures for their hubris, ego, and outright evil. Those of us who grew up in Britain in the 1980s remember how it managed to permanently tar the public images of certain politicians. As Alan Moore said previously, satire is a kind of magical spell that can destroy a man's image forever. The show is an act of cultural assassination. It fires its bullets indiscriminately in all directions in that fine old British tradition of satirical contempt.
Spitting Image 2020 has new puppets of real-life figures to skewer: Donald Trump, Boris Johnson, and their respective hairpieces, Mike Pence is grey-skinned and forgettable, British Home Secretary Priti Patel is a vampire, Jared Kushner is a literal lifeless stiff, Melania Trump sleeps in a coffin, the Coronavirus is a recurring character who has affairs with both Trump and Boris. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden is a steely, hippy Mary Poppins. Boris Johnson's adviser-cum-guru Dominic Cummings, hilariously described by Guardian columnist Marina Hyde as "Boris' emotional support psycho", is a Mekon-like alien wizard with a throbbing head. Joe Biden is a tedious bore. Elon Musk is a tech bro bore. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle as attention-seeking ex-Royals. It's all cheap shots and nasty jabs that can be cathartic when they land. If they don't, well, there's more to come. Everyone you can think of shows up as an ugly puppet here: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Ivanka, James Corden… eventually, everyone in the media landscape will receive the dubious honor of receiving the Spitting Image treatment.
The full episodes were previously region-locked on the Spitting Image Channel, but as of this week, they were suddenly available to stream in the US, perhaps to coincide with the upcoming Presidential elections. You can also stream individual clips if you don't want to sit through whole episodes.