After the outrageous exploits of his first persona Ali G, Sacha Baron Cohen has spent a career duping and pranking Americans with continuously outrageous gimmicks whilst remaining poignant and relevant on the current hot topics in the world. From Borat to Bruno, there’s no denying that the man has a gift for creating larger-than-life personas that become ingrained in popular media. Step forward Who Is America, the latest hilarious seven part series that sees Cohen tirelessly travelling America dressed as four unique personalities interviewing governors, artists, celebrities and more whilst weaving a wicked political and societal examination of America’s current divide.
Each episode follows four unique personalities (with a couple of extras thrown in to break up monotony), dissecting, humiliating and humouring various government officials and activists through politically charged interviews discussing everything from pro-guns in schools to the mythology of climate change. The first personality is Billy Wayne Ruddick, a die-hard Trump supporter whose mix of outlandish scepticism and genuine stupidity makes the perfect prop to use for interview format and to satirise the republicans. The second is Erran Morrad, an anti-terrorist expert and ex-Mossad agent steeped in Islamophobia. His gun-loving, terrorist fearing persona plays perfectly into the hands of paranoid American citizens.
The third is arguably the weakest of the bunch, ex-prisoner Ricky Sherman who tries to acclimatise to life outside prison through a series of outlandish and exploitative pranks. The fourth, Dr. Nira Cain-N’Degeocello, acts as a mirror image of Billy Wayne as a weird democratic supporter to mixed results. There are a few other personalities here including an unboxing youtuber and a fashion icon but these four characters are the predominant focal points on Who Is America.
The topics are politically charged throughout, fused with enough satire and wit to carry the series through the seven episodes depicted. Although by the end of the final few episodes, some of the characters have outstayed their welcome (especially Ricky Sherman), the smart decision to stick to seven episodes rather than dragging this out longer than necessary certainly helps the show’s credibility.
The sketches are what make Who Is America? so appealing though and while you may not find every character or situation funny, there’s enough variety across the episodes to make for an enjoyably diverse watch nonetheless. Personal favourites of ours include Dr. Nira pitching a Hilary-foundation funded Mosque in the heart of Southern America, the examination of the EDM scene and most of the incredulous scenes including Erran Morrad’s anti-terrorist training.
Americans will inevitably get more out of this series, especially with the political undercurrent and satirical examination of the current divide in America but there’s enough global appeal to make Who Is America? a hilarious and worthwhile venture for anyone whose been a fan of Cohen’s previous work or satirical comedy.
Verdict - 8/10