Bill Hader, Fred Armisen on Why 'Documentary Now!' Isn't a Political Parody

The pair, on hand at the TCA on Sunday, insist that the comedy series is more of a "time piece" than a political one.
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Fred Armisen (left), Bill Hader

IFC's Documentary Now! isn't trying to be a political parody.

The series from Seth Meyers, Fred Armisen, Bill Hader and Rhys Thomas will return Sept. 14 with an episode called "The Bunker," a spoof on the 1993 political documentary The War Room about Bill Clinton's presidential campaign.

Armisen, Hader and Rhys were on hand Sunday at the Television Critics Association's summer press tour, along with director and executive producer Alex Buono, to field questions about the comedy's second season. (Meyers couldn't make it because he was "getting breakfast on Melrose," joked Armisen and Hader.)

Onstage, the gang made it clear that they didn't set out to make a political parody in an election year. "It's more of a time piece than anything else," said Armisen when asked specifically about "The Bunker." "That whole episode isn't a political piece as much as a take on what '90s documentaries were … it wasn't about the politics of it. In fact, the politics [are] really blurry in it."

Hader, for his part, acknowledged that the timing of the episode may lead viewers to think they were attempting to capitalize on all the political chaos ensuing in this year's presidential election. "I'm sure people will find some correlation between what's going on now, but we never wanted to make it some big statement of what's happening now or anything," he said. "It was kind of more like big, general truths about people running a campaign."

Added Armisen: "We really liked the original version of it, and we planned this for years and it just happened to come out this year."

The two went on to explain what they look for when choosing a documentary to parody (others this season include a Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Swimming to Cambodia, Stop Making Sense, Salesman and The Kid Stays in the Picture spoofs): "When we're choosing these documentaries, [we always ask] what's an interesting, seminal documentary? Which The War Room is. If you look at The War Room and weirdly how it affected comedy — like The Larry Sanders Show and all these things that came out after it … you can trace it back. The Office, all that kind of starts there with that documentary."

The other element they look for? "[It also has to be] two characters that really Fred and I can play. When you look at George Stephanopoulos and James Carville, we could totally play those characters," added Hader.

Season two of Documentary Now! is set to premiere Wednesday, Sept. 14, at 10 p.m ET/PT on IFC.

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