A mockumentary is a comedic spin on the documentary format. It generally depicts fictional events and can include movies and or TV shows.
Mockumentaries incorporate elements of humor to recreate reality, and actors mainly break the fourth wall.
Looking back at its history, in 1938, Orson Welles adapted H.G Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds as a radio drama. It managed to cause panic among the audience due to its format.
In this post, we are going to talk about a few of the best mockumentary films and TV shows that have graced the screen with exemplary content and production value.
This is Spinal Tap (film)
We’re going to start with a classic.
Rob Reiner’s This is Spinal Tap is a rockumentary (rock music and documentary) that follows a fake British heavy metal band and captures their USA tour.
The best part is that a lot of the conversations, feuds and band-member ponderings are so believable that you’ll forget none of it is real.
The mockumentary received critical acclaim and has a cult following. Many renowned publications, such as Empire magazine and The New York Times have listed it as one of the best mockumentary films of all time.
The Office (American TV series)
Greg Daniels’ The Office was adapted from an original UK show created by iconic comedian, Ricky Gervais.
It follows the lives of different employees working for a mid-sized paper company based in Scranton.
The mockumentary-style show has become a bona fide pop-culture phenomenon.
The show is a goldmine for memes and catchphrases, such as “that’s what she said” and “did I stutter?”. The series debuted in 2005 and went on to win several awards such as Emmy, Golden Globes, and Peabody.
And its legacy still lives on. In 2020, it made headlines as the most streamed show on Netflix. After that, the show was moved exclusively to NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming service.
Parks and Recreation (TV series)
Parks and Recreation is another commendable show by Greg Daniels. It is set in the fictional town of Pawnee that follows the lives of local government employees.
The show’s satirical content gave people an idea of how local public offices work. It also introduced relatable characters, such as Leslie Knope and Ron Swanson. They have become a part of internet meme culture.
This show also won multiple awards such as Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG, and Peabody. And even though it aired in 2009, people still watch it.
What We Do in the Shadows (film)
What We Do in the Shadows was created by New Zealand filmmaker, actor, and comedian Taika Watiti. The film follows the lives of four vampires as housemates from New Zealand.
The characters allude to famous vampires from folklore and other pop culture material.
The film became so popular that FX Network picked it up for a TV adaptation. So far, three seasons have been produced that are equally celebrated.
The series strikes an interesting balance and appeals to a wide set of viewers, from hardcore sci-fi fans to casual mainstream viewers. It found the sweet spot.
Also read: 9 Best Documentary-Style Ads That Nailed It
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping is a musical comedy mockumentary film and was created by the famous comedy band The Lonely Island. It follows the life of a pop rap prodigy played by Andy Samberg.
The film is laden with cameos from Pharrell Williams, Mariah Carey, Jimmy Fallon, and Michael Bolton. It developed a cult following after its release.
Many people likened Samberg’s character to Justin Bieber, but the actor clarified how the identity he created was an amalgamation of different pop stars, not just Bieber.
Sacha Baron Cohen starred and directed Borat. It follows a journalist from Kazakhstan who travels to the USA to document his interactions with the local people.
Many people believed that they were being interviewed for real by Sacha Cohen for a serious documentary.
While it didn’t paint the real picture of Kazakhstan, the country still accepted it and used it to promote tourism.
It was also nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay.
American Vandal (TV series)
American Vandal was created by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda. The show follows two high school students who use their detective skills to uncover mysteries happening around the campus.
The show has been praised for its immersive plot and subtle humor regarding how unpredictable things can be in an American high school.
It managed to win several awards including Emmy and Peabody.
Players (TV series)
Players is another mockumentary series by Dan Perrault and Tony Yacenda. The show follows an esports team that partakes in the North American “League of Legends” competition.
The show has painted a pretty realistic picture of how esports competitions go.
Modern Family (TV series)
Modern Family is another mockumentary-style show that became a mainstream hit. It was created by Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan.
The show revolves around three different families related to Jay Pritchett, played by Ed O’Neill.
The show ran for 11 seasons and featured a diverse cast of likable, quirky characters with wholesome stories.
It also won numerous awards including an Emmy, Writers’ Guild, Peabody, and Golden Globes.
The mockumentary genre is still not a common medium to this day. But it provides a range of attributes such as improv, breaking the fourth wall, and recreating reality in deadpan or bizarre humor.
Over the years, filmmakers and showrunners have delved into creating impactful films and TV shows that remain stuck with the viewers for a long time.
The team often looks to these shows for inspiration when they feel like a video needs some pizzazz.
Here’s one we made for our social media that features some meme-able moments from The Office.