In a year stuffed full of strange and surreal imagery, perhaps nothing has embodied the Black Mirror fever dream that is 2020 like this video posted by comedian Ramy Youssef: a woman in a hazmat suit, waving goodbye, as she leaves his home with the Emmy he didn’t win.
Such is life in the era of COVID-19, where awards ceremonies are socially distanced, and the disappointment of not winning in your category is compounded by the indignity of having to sit in a tux, with a bottle of champagne, watching it lumber away in real time.
Ramy shouldn’t worry too much. Failure (or at least the appearance of failure—an Emmy nomination is still plenty to be excited about) has taken on a new, almost aspirational dimension in 2020. In a moment where we are all struggling to get through any given day, under an ever-present cloud of crippling anxiety, and bolstered by, among other things a quiet dread that Tr*mp will be re-elected in November, this video is far more comforting than the many wonderful acceptance speeches.
In fact, a cartoonish figure giving a sad, consolatory wave while slowly backing away with the thing you want most is a wonderful metaphor for this entire nightmare of a year. Thought you were going to move overseas? Get a big promotion? Get married? Sorry, babe, turns out the results are in and you’re not getting any of it! And guess what else? You can’t complain, because there are far worse things happening right now.
Ramy Youssef’s ability to mock the absurdity of this year should act as our collective energy board for the rest of 2020. One of the many ironies of living through a global pandemic is that it makes the things we most want out of life sharpen into focus, while those very circumstances prevent us from doing many of them. The results are scary and frustrating but sometimes—not often, but sometimes—they are hilarious.