Netflix ‘Mulligan’ Review: Tina Fey’s post-apocalyptic satire has its moments but lacks bite
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Netflix’s new satirical animated series from the minds of Robert Carlock and San Means, ‘Mulligan’ is a missed opportunity to tell a terrific tale of a post-apocalyptic world run by an absurd group of people with no sense of communion. The world is under attack by a group of aliens from a planet conformably named Cardi-B. The aliens have managed to destroy the entire civilization but Matty Mulligan (Nat Faxon), the protagonist, drops a grenade in the mothership which kills all the invading aliens. Matty is assisted by Lucy Susan (Chrissy Teigen), a young beauty queen.
Matty saves Washington DC and is proclaimed as the President of the US by a shrewd surviving Senator named Cartwright LaMarr (Dana Carvey). He convinces Matty to become President and takes the spot of Vice President for himself. Lucy, who Matty loves, becomes the First Lady. To govern, Matty looks for a cabinet that comes in the form of Dr Farrah Braun (Tina Fey), a former DARPA scientist who takes charge of all the scientific issues while a history scholar, Simon Prioleau (Sam Richardson) advises Matty about the past. An Englishman called Jeremy (Daniel Radcliffe), who is considered a genius for his accent, is also part of Matty’s cabinet while the duty of handling the military goes to a young boy named General Scarpaccio (Ayo Edebiri). However, there’s also a captive alien called Axatrax who Matty ridicules from time to time. Matty, along with the people around him, looks to govern and rebuild the world destroyed by the aliens, except he isn’t too bright. The issues brought on by his cabinet and Lucy do not align with his narcissistic interest. Matty tries and fails in his endeavors as President but the issues that he continues to deal with are almost similar to the world that was, despite some being completely ridiculous.
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What are the issues ‘Mulligan’ deals with?
The Netflix series has 10 episodes running close to 30 minutes with each episode hitting close to satirization of politics, popular culture, and social issues. One of the episodes calls for a census to learn about the true number of people left alive after the invasion. It is revealed that women now outnumber men two to one, which excites Simon. Matty throws a party at the White House after learning that there are a mere 1,132 people left on the planet while Senator LaMarr decides to pit the women against each other by allowing only photos of a woman on a new stamp that they look to issue. Lucy is in constant argument with Matty over his obscure policies, which include removing money as legal tender and making kisses the main currency.
Climate change is addressed by Lucy who organizes a concert to get rid of a stench that has made life miserable in Washington DC. The show subtly addresses a lot of themes with its absurdist and out-of-the-box approach but it is extremely difficult to extract a laugh out of it. Viewers who were expecting a higher level of satire from the people who made 'The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ and ’30 Rock' will be disappointed.
An opportunity missed
The show is a tale of misfits who are propelled into a world they cannot fathom. From aliens, the presidency, prophecies, and no billionaires except for Johnny Zhao (Ronny Chieng), who lands on the shores of Washington DC and begins to earn money by giving scoops on people working for the government, the show has its interesting bits. The stranded alien Axatrax is one such element. Axatrax sends a message to his planet but is disappointed when in the finale, a ship appears on the shores of the city but is filled with humans and not aliens.
‘Mulligan’ was the perfect setting to use satire to highlight the issues that may arise in a post-apocalyptic world instead of mocking them. However, it falls flat, giving the impression of another animated series gone wrong. In the end, more humans arrive on the ship, leading LaMarr to suggest that fair elections should be held.