From writer Lucy Prebble and actress Billie Piper, comes an explosive and biting Sky original comedy drama that depicts the modern tragedy of an actresses’ fall from grace. I Hate Suzie follows the life of Suzie Pickles, a thirty-something year old former child pop star who found fame in a cult sci-fi series. This is of course riffing on Piper’s own career, as she too was a teen pop star that later became a fan favourite as Doctor Who’s iconic companion, Rose Tyler. As Suzie teeters on the brink of the third act of her career, her life is thrown into complete turmoil when her phone is hacked and her nude photographs are leaked online.
Piper’s performance in this series was absolutely mind-blowing. She is truly hypnotic as she portrays a complex blend of charisma and volatility – an echo of her previously dazzling role in the 2016 Young Vic production of Yerma. The show is hypnotic from the very first moment when witnessing Suzie’s stressful and hysterical attempts to simultaneously juggle a media scandal, motherhood, her sexuality, career, and marriage.
From the get go, Prebble and Piper artfully set the tone for the entire series as a mesmerising, hilarious and nerve wracking wild ride that barely gives you a second to breath start to finish. You become transfixed, unable to look away from the stimulating, at times psychedelic, tragicomical spectacle of Suzie’s life. This is perfectly encapsulated by the first episode which relentlessly depicts Suzie’s claustrophobic anxiety spiral. As a pretentious photoshoot crew descends upon her family home while she frantically rushes around unplugging the Wi-Fi and hiding all electronic devices; desperately trying to shield herself and her family from the compromising photos that are sure to shatter her professional and personal life.
The most poignant element of this drama was its unabashed and compelling depiction of complex feminist themes. The series utilised the fitting structure of 8 stages of grief such as ‘Denial’, ‘Bargaining’, ‘Anger’, in order to explore Suzie’s emotional state amidst the traumatic fallout following the scandal. This opened doors to depict the sexist treatment of women in the public eye as well as Suzie’s own internalised misogyny. The most prominent and primary relationship explored within the series is the relatable and realistic female friendship between Suzie and her best friend-come-manager Naomi (Leila Farzad). To see such intricate and bombastic, witty and heart-breaking, layered female centric storylines as the fruit of a collaboration between the two stunningly talented female artists Prebble and Piper, was absolutely spectacular to behold. Especially as Prebble revealed that many broadcasters had declined the series on the grounds that “we already have our woman-having-a-breakdown show.” The series is a scathing, meticulously crafted feminine outpouring that everyone should witness.
Overall, this series felt so fresh as it did not follow traditional contrived arcs. Instead it forged its own way, barrelling along for 6 and a half hours of relentless chaotic action that felt reminiscent of the Safdie brothers 2017 thriller Good Time. The series ultimately concludes with an episode entitled ‘Acceptance’ – but this is not the conventional, happy ending that you may expect. The conclusion is both desolate and hopeful, resigned but liberated. Therefore, this series revels in the complexity of human nature and female existence. Prebble and Piper invite you to dance along with Suzie in the shades of grey. It makes a lasting impression that stays with you long after the final episode, burned into your memory, as you lived Suzie’s life alongside her, if just for a little while.
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