I Hate Suzie review

Billie Piper shines in this messy, emotionally “naked” comedy

Rony Patra -

I Hate Suzie review

What is the story about?

Thanks to a phone-hacking scandal, numerous compromising photos of Suzie Pickles, a former child star, tumble out in the media and bring her life crashing down. The show chronicles her life as she undergoes the eight stages of grief and attempts to put her life back together.

Analysis

We have often heard of how women are categorised as “loose” characters who “need to be put in their place”. On the face of it, I Hate Suzie might not seem like the kind of show that deals with such an issue. The leaking of Suzie's intimate nude photos to the media kickstarts her entire process of mental disintegration, where her personal and professional lives spiral out of control. The humour in the story comes from the attempts by Suzie and her agent Naomi to put up a brave front for the world, as well as Suzie's attempts to get her life together.
 
But dig deeper, and the real issues around Suzie's sordid life tumble out. Even though the leaking of the photos themselves constitute a violation of Suzie's privacy, she has to tackle comments in tabloids and on social media about how “slutty” she is. While her husband, Cob, is understandably upset about the entire saga, his anger is not about the violation of Suzie's world, as much as it is about who she has slept with while taking the photos. Creator and star Billie Piper, together with co-creator Lucy Prebble, create a terribly messed-up version of real life, where the danger feels all the more real because of how easily it could happen to us. The show never tries to get preachy in spite of its themes, but cleverly balances raunchy humour with bittersweet moments of empathy and clarity. Over the course of eight episodes, this balance does not waver at all.

Performances

Piper is clearly the star. As Suzie, she undergoes the entire gamut of emotions ranging from psychotic rage to unbridled grief, with a touch of hilarity. Leila Farzad is in smashing form as Naomi, who watches Piper with a strange mix of adoration, quizzicality and empathy. Daniel Engs plays the bone-headed Cob with a certain hesitant flourish. The rest of the casts are spectacular too.

Music & Other Departments

The real genius of Tim Sidell and Luke Bryant's camerawork is the way they frame tight closeups of Suzie to convey her grief. Together with Alison Dominitz's production design, they create a claustrophobic aura around Suzie, as she feels the walls close in on her existence

Highlights

The bawdy humour and Piper's performance are the major highlights. The scene where Cob screams at Suzie, asking who she slept with, is both hilarious and sad at the same time.

Drawbacks

Obviously, a show like this cannot be watched with family. That's the only drawback in what is otherwise a finely-written show.

Did I enjoy it?

Yes.

Do I recommend it?

Of course. Look past the “nakedness” of this entire enterprise, and you will be rewarded with surprising—and heartbreaking—insights about how society tends to demonize female sexuality.


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