‘Cunk on Earth’ puts a comical twist on history lessons 

Netflix’s new history mockumentary, “Cunk on Earth,” stars Diane Morgan as Philomena Cunk. The mockumentary explores different moments in history using humor as a method of instruction. Illustration by Sarah Chantres/The Daily Campus.

If you’re anything like me, history is one of your least favorite subjects. After long, mundane classes full of names and dates, the information goes in one ear and right out the other. Certain time periods spark more interest than others but still cannot convince me to enjoy history as a whole. I honestly envy people who genuinely enjoy learning about history — my attention span simply cannot keep up. 

I never enjoyed the process of learning history until I discovered Netflix’s newly released mockumentary “Cunk on Earth.” In this show, Philomena Cunk — played by Diane Morgan — carries viewers through a series of mini history lessons sprinkled with jokes, satire and sarcasm. The show mocks the early inventions of human history, as well as historians who have dedicated their lives to studying such phenomena. While the description makes the show sound like an insult to history, it actually works to do the opposite. With awkward humor that actively draws viewers in, the lessons don’t feel like lessons at all. 

The first episode focuses on the earliest humans and the development of civilization. Cunk asks questions that reveal whether or not early humans had eyebrows, if Steven Spielberg made a movie on Egyptian hieroglyphics or if humans managed to invent the wheel while living on all fours. Unfortunately, none of those things happened. Additionally, viewers will experience an engaging conversation between Cunk and a historian on what ancient civilizations invented versus perfected. Some of these inventions, such as roads and the calendar, are expected. Others sounded quite outlandish for an ancient civilization; for example, inventing a technique to dye hair bleach blonde. 

Cunk takes us with her on travels to Greece, Rome, Egypt and China to learn about how each country’s history contributes to the society we live in today. While her humor plays a role in making the series a fun history lesson, it is used cleverly and does not distract from the facts being presented. If anything, it actually makes the lessons easier to remember. For example, thanks to Cunk’s humor, I will always remember that the Great Wall of China cannot actually be seen from space. 

I would compare the structure of the mini history lessons presented in this series to watching a lot of TikToks that pop up when you enter “history” in the app’s search bar. Every video you scroll through provides a brief summation of a certain war or invention, and every video is focused on something different. No one topic is dragged out too far because there is simply not enough time to cover all that information. Cunk uses this technique with each episode; while she sticks to one time period, she discusses a multitude of different countries and their inventions to avoid boring the audience. 

While “Cunk on Earth” may not help you ace your next world history exam, it will entertain and enlighten you on how the world came to be as we know it today. You may still hate reading history books or attending your history classes even after watching the show. However, you will be able to sit through this show and genuinely enjoy what you are watching — all while unintentionally learning. I recommend this mockumentary series to anyone from a history buff to a history-hater. 

Rating 5/5 

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