IFC’s ‘Documentary Now!’: Bill Hader and Fred Armisen Break Down the Docs Spoofed in Season 2

TCA: The series will spoof "The War Room," "Stop Making Sense," and four other docs.
Bill Hader, Fred Armisen in "Documentary Now!"
Bill Hader, Fred Armisen in "Documentary Now!"
Katrina Marcinowski/IFC

IFC announced at its press day for the Television Critics Association on Sunday that its spoof series “Documentary Now!” will return for its second season September 14 at 10pm.

The second season continues the series’ winning formula of paying homage to well-known documentary films, but with a Fred Armisen and Bill Hader twist. Each episode, Dame Helen Mirren acts as host to introduce the faux docs.

The six lucky films that get the “Documentary Now!” treatment this season are as follows:

Inspiration: “The War Room”
Spoof: “The Bunker” — A 1990s gubernatorial race shot by camcorder is as gloriously low-rent and ethically dubious as can be expected.

Hader plays a campaign manager named Teddy Redbones, who has echoes of Hader’s impersonation of James Carville. “Teddy Redbones is different. He just wants to win,” the actor told the TCA. “He’s this super insane campaign guy. He keeps forgetting [his client’s] name. It doesn’t matter who he’s helping win the thing.”

Inspiration: “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”
Spoof: “Juan Likes Rice and Chicken” — A family legacy of grains and poultry is served on a platter of high expectations.

The episode stars Armisen as a son inheriting the family business of serving an iconic dish of chicken and rice. “We didn’t directly reference ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi,’ but more of a food documentary,” co-creator Rhys Thomas said and added that there was one big issue with shooting on location in Colombiaz: “We had to search South America for a high enough elevation to be higher than the Zika line.”

Fred Armisen and Hector Elias in "Documentary Now!"
Fred Armisen and Hector Elias in “Documentary Now!”Beatrice Aguirre Zuniga/IFC

Inspiration: “Swimming to Cambodia”
Spoof: “Parker Gail’s Location Is Everything” — Parker Gail (Hader) is a character inspired by dramatist Spalding Gray and laments the loss of his NYC apartment.

Inspiration: “Stop Making Sense”
Spoof: “Final Transmission” — The concert doc is lovingly recreated with nods to Talking Heads and original songs all written by Armisen. Maya Rudolph guest stars in this one as a singer in the eponymous band. In this episode in particular, the actors were so immersed in creating a concert that they often forgot they were shooting a mockumentary.

“We learned 10 songs and we were actually playing, so I actually forgot about it,” Hader said. “We put out a [call], hoping for 200 people. A thousand people showed up, all in ‘80s garb.”

Armisen added, “We used equipment from the ‘80s too so it would be more realistic, so it was less to lean on. I feel like whenever I watch something, a little detail, a tiny little thing. I like it much more.”

IndieWire was able to attend the live concert shooting for this episode and will share a write-up later.

Inspiration: “Salesman”
Spoof: “Globesman” – In a world where people prefer affordable flat atlases, four hard-working businessmen try to sell them globes.

Bill Smitrovich, Fred Armisen, Tony Forsmark and Bill Hader in "Documentary Now!"
Bill Smitrovich, Fred Armisen, Tony Forsmark and Bill Hader in “Documentary Now!”Rhys Thomas/IFC

Inspiration: “The Kid Stays in the Picture”
Spoof: “The Runner Up: Part 1 and 2” —  “It’s about a guy who wants respect in this industry and tries to win an award,” said Hader, who plays the filmmaker. “So he tries to make movies that are Oscar-bait movies, and they’re pretty awful.”

“Documentary Now!” premieres Wednesday, September 14 at 10pm on IFC.

Stay on top of the latest breaking film and TV news! Sign up for our email newsletters here.

Daily Headlines
Daily Headlines covering Film, TV and more.

By subscribing, I agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

PMC Logo
IndieWire is a part of Penske Media Corporation. © 2023 IndieWire Media, LLC. All Rights Reserved.