At the end of 2020, Amazon released a new title: Yearly Departed. The comedy special was to poke fun at the chaos we’d all endured because of COVID-19. While it was enjoyable, the special often felt too-scripted at times, making it hard to truly appreciate the fantastic crew of female comedians on hand. Unfortunately, the follow-up special seems to suffer from many of the same issues. Dubbed Season 2, the 2021 episode of Yearly Departed features yet another stellar group of women but feels edited down.
The idea of bringing together some of the biggest names in comedy to roast a year like 2021? It’s a great idea, and honestly, the year has produced plenty of content to craft a comedy special. The thing is, though, Yearly Departed never feels like a comedy special. It feels like a scripted attempt at a comedy special designed for primetime television and it’s frustrating. Which is odd as Amazon Studios has done a great job with its original programming thus far.
This year’s special is hosted by the incredibly talented Yvonne Orji (Insecure). From the moment she enters the screen until the moment she exits, Orji is a commanding presence. Joining the actress are Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie), Chelsea Peretti (Brooklyn Nine-Nine), Meg Stalter (Hacks), Dulcé Sloan (The Daily Show), Aparna Nancherla (The Great North) and X Mayo (The Daily Show) with musical guest Alessia Cara. It’s an impressive cast, and honestly, the jokes are great. The problem with the way Yearly Departed is formatted is it often feels overly edited.
Yearly Departed has the potential to be something truly special. All-female talent with the willingness to produce jokes most wouldn’t dare? It should be a huge success. From the jokes regarding Zoom, Hot Vaxx Summer, Hermit Life and Saying Goodbye to Assholes, there’s plenty of promise here. If only the format was different. Set it before a live audience, even if the audience has to be present through virtual measures. Allow for that live feedback.
The most frustrating part is that the outtakes prove Season 2 of Yearly Departed was full of fantastic comedy work. The women were free to play and joke, the laughs felt real, the smiles genuine, and more importantly? It didn’t feel overly scripted. With a 2022 return teased, one can only hope next year’s special toys with its format a bit more because with such impressive talents? There’s no reason Yearly Departed shouldn’t be enjoyable.
If you’re looking for something to ring in the New Year with, Yearly Departed could still prove to be a fun series to enjoy. However, it’s best to temper your expectations.