By Hannah Foster | Staff Writer
After filming for months during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bo Burnham’s special “Inside” came to Netflix on May 30, 2021. Although Burnham is known as a comedian, this special broke away from his normal format and instead plunged into commentary on the nature of the Internet and the performativity that takes place there.
The special is still a comedy, but it possesses a depth and message that most comedies simply do not. Burnham filmed “Inside” over the course of many months, so consequently, there is a clear evolution in his character and performance. He connects to audiences through emotional vulnerability and dynamism in a period of social isolation.
At the onset of the special, it’s clear how quarantine is negatively impacting Burnham, and he even goes as far as to say that his mental health is reaching an all-time low. Then, he cuts to a song called “Welcome to the Internet”. In this song, Burnham discusses the overwhelming vastness of the Internet and all the information it gives people access to. He refers to it as “a little bit of everything all of the time/apathy’s a tragedy and boredom’s a crime/anything and everything all of the time.” ‘
Burnham received Emmy Awards for Outstanding Music Direction, Outstanding Writing and Outstanding Directing for a Variety Special for “Inside”. The music from the special stirred up quite the buzz and gained an even larger audience when Burnham released the songs as their own album. Despite its technical status of a comedy, the Recording Academy has ruled the “Inside” album is not eligible to receive a Grammy for Best Comedy Album because it “does not meet the criteria.”
Burnham filmed the special on his own and distinctly chose the visual effects. He plays with lights, as well as contrast and depth to make the small space within which he filmed seem larger. The innovative use of these visual tactics distinguishes Burnham as a cinematic creative.
Burnham pokes fun at the nature of the internet with random hard cuts where he imitates influencers and mocks video game streams. The familiarity of these concepts in everyday life allows Burnham’s ideas to resonate with a variety of viewers.
Overall, the narrative Burnham cultivates in this special is distinctly modern and captures the current moment in a way that no other creative has been able to achieve thus far. “Inside” meant a lot to all kinds of people when it was released and will continue to serve meaningful commentary about life in a pandemic. 10/10 pinecones.