Created, shot and edited by himself in the same room over a year, Bo Burnham truly keeps his audience guessing as to whether he is genuinely slipping into a depressive hole or if he is simply acting. Burnham’s experiences with mental health are well known to his fans. He is extremely open with audiences about these things and some lyrics from his songs should alert you to his fragile mental state. However, in Inside, we see it first hand on the camera in between his ‘silly songs’. It is a groundbreaking hour and a half, especially for fans of his previous work. Any newcomers to his comedy may be a little overwhelmed with the realness of this special but there are plenty of satirical songs and faux-serious sketches to keep you entertained regardless.
Inside may take a deeper look into Burnham’s downward spiral while filming in lockdown, but it is just as relatable as any of his specials. In amongst the pieces to camera about his thoughts on mental health there are some brilliant songs about FaceTiming with his mom, cancel culture, a song about sexting and my personal favourite White Woman’s Instagram.
Burnham’s songs always come with a deeper meaning, and he has honed these messages perfectly in this special. In previous specials, such as What (2013), these messages were plain to see and sometimes shoehorned in. In Inside these hidden meanings can be hidden in a song and only on subsequent listens will you realise that they are there. White Woman’s Instagram, for example, is a song about the generic things that can be found on many young white womens’ Instagrams. It is hilarious, tongue in cheek but also touches on the real people behind the accounts and makes sure to show that it is just a satirical song. Everybody has their own niche on Instagram and everyone has a personal story away from the online world which can’t be seen through our photos of food, nights out or whatever we may post. Another song, Welcome to the Internet, is very on the nose in its messaging. However, the refrain is like a completely different song to the almost deranged verses and chorus about how we have access to everything all of the time. It lulls us into a sense of security about the song before wrenching us back into the possibly deranged mind of Bo Burnham.
Fans of Burnham’s early work on YouTube and his first special will not really know the comedian they are seeing on screen in this special. He has developed and evolved into a thoughtful but troubled entertainer. You will not be disappointed you watched this special but you may feel a little helpless about the present, the future and the world.
Inside has made quite the impression on the young, impressionable adults of TikTok. Everybody is loving the special and duetting, reacting and making their own versions of his songs. It is brilliant to see another age group get into the self-deprecating comedian.
Hopefully it will not be another five years before we see another special from this brilliant mind, but we shouldn’t complain if this is the last special we see from Burnham. This latest special covers everything from sexting to being an unpaid intern. Check it out for yourself on Netflix.