2020 has been a tough year for everyone in so many ways, but one of the positives of spending much more time at home has been the chance to watch more of the superb content on TV.
The best and most groundbreaking show of 2020 so far has been Michaela Coel’s ‘I May Destroy You’, and ‘I Hate Suzie’ feels like a perfect companion piece. They are both hilarious, dark, upsetting, sexual, and riveting dramas that defy almost every stereotype you would expect and provide unmissable viewing.
Created by Lucy Prebble and Billie Piper, reuniting again after the superb and equally boundary pushing ‘The Secret Diary of a Call Girl’, the story of ‘I Hate Suzie’ follows Suzie (Billie Piper), a former child pop star and now an actress, who has her life thrown upside down when naked photos leak online of her, and even worse, it is very clearly another man and not her husband that is alongside her in them.
This storyline feels not only personal to Piper who was a young pop star in the public eye that then became an actress, but also ripped from the headlines as recent years have seen terrible nude photo leaks for many actresses, most famously the 2014 incident that effected dozens of stars, most notably Jennifer Lawrence. The public and media reactions to this is often to blame the people themselves rather than those who have invaded their privacy, and this show really explores that in all its complexities.
The first episode builds up an almost unbearable tension as Suzie learns of these leaks and tries to stop her life from falling apart whilst also maintaining a calm public persona, and some visually stunning and instantly iconic TV ensues. There are a lot of twists and turns throughout the series so I will not go into too much plot detail, but the way the story unfolds is constantly fresh and never what you would expect.
Episode 4, titled ‘Shame’, is one of the most unique and simply best episodes of TV this year. The whole episode is centred around a troubled Suzie trying to masturbate, but instead of the traditional ‘few minutes and move on scene’, we get a cerebral look into her psyche and desires, specifically at this tumultuous time in her life. The story flows off in all sorts of random ways, featuring multiple bizarre sexual fantasies, dark childhood flashbacks, and even imaginary conversations with her assistant.
It is so clear this is a story being told by women, and this episodes represents that perfectly, as the often frustrating stop/start journey towards pleasure for a woman is shown realistically as opposed to the usual ‘have a woman do it like a man’ method we usually see. “You know what I call it when you cry after? A french wank” is how a character refers to it, in one of the funniest lines of the year.
The show not only deals with sex, hacking, the media, the entertainment industry, and family, but it also really looks at female friendship, specifically through the lens of Suzie and Naomi (Leila Farzad). Naomi is Suzie’s manager and best friend who does everything for her, but Farzad is essentially a co-lead as her story also has its own separate strands that eventually lead back to Suzie and we look at the power dynamics and dependencies that creep into friendships.
This show isn’t interested in ‘strong women’ or being role models, but it is interested in exploring truths and complexities. It is funny, it is shocking, it is dark, it is sexy, and it is quite simply one of the best TV shows of 2020.
Rating = 4.5/5