Colonel Sanders was a member of The Pentaverate before he went “tits up,” or so the conspiracy theory relayed in So I Married an Axe Murderer goes. Now, 30 years since that one quotable rant Mike Myers made while playing Stuart MacKenzie in the ‘90s dark rom-com, The Pentaverate has come to Netflix to prove that MacKenzie wasn’t such a nutty tin-foil hat truther after all.
Well, okay, The Pentaverate does poke all the fun it can (and then some) on the historical revisionists that have been platformed and faithfully believed by Facebook aunts and presidents alike. Its zany premise centers on five “nice” wealthy elites (most are played by Mike Myers) that control the world as we know it from their penthouse headquarters in New York City.
In The Pentaverate, there’s no shortage of real-world conspiracy that isn’t touched on — from the “Birds Aren’t Real” movement to “Pizzagate” to conspiracies made up by Myers himself to set up plot devices and gags. While Myers plays nine different characters, other comedians, like Ken Jeong, also star in the Netflix series.
“I’ve been obsessed with secret societies my entire life,” Myers tells Inverse. “In the last five years, this idea of secret societies and what’s true and what is not true has really come into the foreground.”
The Netflix show hits a crisis when the Pentaverate’s attempts at crushing climate change are thwarted. And there’s only one unlikely man who can save Earth: Mike Myers (duh) as dorky news guy Ken Scarborough.
Inverse sat down with Myers and Jeong to discuss The Pentaverate, a Myers-verse that (mostly) forgoes ogres and international men of mystery, and the fascination people have with secret societies.
When Myers said the one-off line in Thomas Schlamme’s So I Married an Axe Murderer that jumpstarted The Pentaverate’s origin story, he says there was a real interest in secret societies at the time. But the time is ripe now with the public’s outright obsession with conspiracy theories to go beyond one scene in the 90s flick.
“I wanted to talk about something that is quite divisive in our society in a silly and accessible way,” Myers says. “The way forward is having fun talking about secret societies.”
As a Canadian, he has found the lack of faith Americans have in their government to be rather amusing — and unrelatable. He explains how he grew up in government-assisted housing, went to public school, loves the transit system, and got to work at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, all of which is federally funded.
“What I really wanted to comment on with The Pentaverate was the death of expertise, and that experts are now being called elites, and that elites are bad,” Myers says.
The Pentaverate’s Ken Jeong says the reason Myers wrote the series is because “his heart is in the now, even if the writing and the story beats of all the episodes aren’t.”
“It gives me goosebumps to be able to work with someone who has been known for more than the past 30 years. And for him to stay in the moment and to write a story that is topical and relevant is amazing,” Jeong tells Inverse.
While the least memorable characters Myers plays in the six-part series are the five starting members of The Pentaverate, the highlights of the show include Ken, a conspiracy debunking hopeful, an unforgiving spoof of InfoWars site owner Alex Jones (Rex Smith), and a self-professed conspiracy addict Anthony Lansdowne.
Other high points in the show include performances from Lydia West, Jennifer Saunders, Richard McCabe, Keegan Michael-Key, Debi Mazar, and Ken Jeong, who are all given plenty of material to get goofy.
New to the Myers-verse, Ken Jeong was thrilled to get the call from Myers — “screaming with joy,” he says — in which The Pentaverate creator explained he had written the part of Skip Cho, an obnoxious rich Asian billionaire that’ll make you howl with delight every time he steps into the frame, for him.
“He's one of my heroes in comedy,” Jeong says. “One of the reasons why I became a comedian was because I would watch Austin Powers so many times by myself in theater and on DVD. Really. I’ve studied his style, I’ve studied his flow, and honestly, selfishly for me, I just wanted to watch his process.”
Jeong sang Myers’ praises further, explaining how he is a “completist,” someone who is not just a virtuoso actor, but also a virtuoso writer, editor, and showrunner. All these roles come together superbly to give Myers’ die-hard fans something new and also something to be nostalgic for — a modern return to form with a groovy aesthetic and the retro jokes that sprung Myers to his ‘90s-and-early-aughts heyday.
“There is no one that has his bandwidth,” Jeong says.
The Pentaverate is now streaming on Netflix.