On Saturday HBO debuted a truly hilarious tennis mockumentary called 7 Days in Hell. Starring Andy Samberg, Kit Harington, and with many cameos from comedians and athletes alike, 7 Days is an amazing send up of HBO Sports Documentaries like McEnroe / Borg – Fire & Ice and of the real life, 3 day, 11 hour match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. If that sounds like a tepid description of an hour of HBO, good; because I don’t want to be the one to spoil the crazy sh** you’re going to see when you watch this thing.
The basic story is of two players: crazy, bad-boy Aaron Williams (Samberg) and prodigious, dullard Charles Poole (Harington). The mockumentary explores their backgrounds and shows the ridiculous lead up to and play of their epic match at Wimbledon in 2001. Along the way there are all sorts of strange, incredible bits. Williams boyhood (reminiscent of the Jerk; a “reverse Blind Side”), the history of Swedish Courtroom sketches, Poole’s strange interviews on the BBC, and the expectations of the Queen of England (played hilariously by June Squibb).
Once the match starts it become, if possible, even more ridiculous. There’s a lot more than tennis that drives the match to 7 days and the twists, turns, tops, bottoms, tweaks, and trucks that drive it are just off the wall. Everything is here, it’s almost absurdist in it’s execution and–at it’s best–the show reminds you of the bonkers weirdness of Monty Python. Samberg is great as his usual brash, loud, bro-y bonanza of energy, but even funnier is Kit Harington playing totally against type (I mean, opposite of his Jon Snow role anyway) as a really, really dim-witted simpleton who is very fit, very good at tennis, and has some real mummy issues. Also, there are amazing cameos from the likes of Lena Dunham, Serena Williams, John McEnroe, Will Forte, David Copperfield, Howie Mandel, and more.
While it is pretty raunchy (there is nudity, I mean… HBO) and definitely not safe for work, 7 Days in Hell is a pretty welcome addition to HBO’s library. It’s definitely worth watching and at a brisk 42 minutes, it’s not going to sap away too much of your time. It’s hard to say much more about it without giving any of the jokes away, but if you like Samberg’s style of humor, if you loved the SNL digital shorts, if you like looking at Kit Harington’s abs (looking at you ladies), if you like absurdist, quick-hit, sketch style homages to your favorite sports documentaries, or if you’re just looking for an easy laugh, I can heartily recommend 7 Days in Hell.