Shock -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Denial -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Fear -| Review Score – 4/5
Shame -| Review Score – 3/5
Bargaining -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Guilt -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Anger -| Review Score – 4/5
Acceptance -| Review Score – 4/5
Our world has a serious celebrity problem. Not a problem in the sense of these men and women taking the spotlight but more so in our utter disregard for their elevated status. Sometimes it’s easy to forget these are normal human beings and the pressure of being in the limelight all the time must be exhausting.
The things we do see – pictures in the paper, gossip online or troll comments on Twitter – pale in comparison to what we don’t. Mo Farah spoke of having to lock himself indoors because reporters would take pictures through the window. We’ve seen the News Of The World tapping phones and even some news stories completely distorting or skewing people’s words to fit an agenda.
I Hate Suzie then is a fascinating comedic drama that dives head-first into this topic. On the surface, it’s a story of a child-star celebrity descending down a nightmarish path to misery. However, it’s also a poignant and incredibly realistic portrayal of how the media and public can completely destroy one person’s life.
The unfortunate star in question is Suzie Pickles. The opening 5 minutes look to take a more uplifting approach as we relive Suzie’s star performance as a child. With rapturous applause consuming her, the faceless judges at the competition promise to make Suzie a big star.
Fast forward 20 years and Suzie is living in a luxurious country house with her deaf son Frank and husband Cob. There’s obviously friction in the marriage but big news from Disney promises good things to come on the horizon.
Unfortunately this momentarily blip of happiness comes crashing down when explicit photos of Suzie leak online and completely implode the happy family set-up.
As Suzie is forced to juggle her professional and personal life, things go from bad to worse. Every small victory is quickly extinguished by another wave of pure misery. This eventually leads to Suzie hitting rock bottom and struggling to breathe in an ocean of despair.
Along for the ride is best friend and manager Naomi who tries to save face and make the most of a difficult situation. It’s not easy for her and toward the middle of the series she too ends up slipping as she struggles to hold Suzie afloat.
Only, her slide is a little different as she receives some bad news from the doctor. This calls to re-evaluate everything she knew in life and make a difficult decision regarding her personal and professional life.
Each of the 8 episodes are broken up into significant chapters that play on a different emotion or tone. This works beautifully against the style of each piece to feel like 8 very different chapters of a book. Episode 3 – aptly titled Fear – uses a lot of minor key piano strums and plays out as a psychological thriller.
Another episode focuses exclusively on a family wedding and this entire 35 minute segment relies on heavy camera swings and well-written and believable dialogue.
At times it feels like there’s a different Director taking the reigns of every episode but given Georgi Banks-Davies handles all 8 (according to IMDB anyway!) then it’s quite the impressive feat.
The writing is excellent too and there’s some lovely meta nods to Billie’s life. From a therapist being called Rose (Billie’s character name in Doctor Who) to the singing career early on, all of this feels like a surrealist memoir to Billie’s life. Of course, I’m not suggesting it is but the series definitely works well when viewed through that lens.
As mentioned earlier though I Hate Suzie really works when it tackles the societal impact of celebrity culture. The vilification and destruction of someone for our amusement is something that’s captured beautifully here.
The pixelation of the male in question and brief ideas surrounding sexual assault and harassment are other big topics that crop up here. Unlike some shows that scream this from the rooftops, I Hate Suzie instead decides to show rather than tell and that in itself is deafening enough to hear.
Sky’s latest drama is unlike many shows released in 2020. It’s a beautifully artistic and surprisingly personal show. It’s well acted, thematically relevant and brings up some incredibly important subjects. While there are still a fair few unresolved plot issues at the end, there’s definitely scope for a second season to grow into this.
Despite being listed as a comedy (to be fair there are a couple of darkly comedic high points), it’s really the drama that shines through in this one. With a run-time of 30-40 minutes a piece, this is an easy show to get into and a difficult one to put down. It’s also arguably one of the best shows this year.
Verdict - 8.5/10