I Hate Suzie is an 8-episode comedy-drama from Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble. Having originally aired on Britain’s Sky Atlantic, it is available for streaming on HBO Max and stars Piper, Daniel Ings, and Leila Farzad.
Suzie Pickles (Piper) was a child star who actually made it into a career as an actor without suffering the typical slings and arrows of child stardom. Sure, she has a history of drug abuse, but she’s well-adjusted now with her husband Cob (Ings) and her son Frank (Matthew Jordan-Cobbs). That is until illicit photos of her having sex with Carter (Nathaniel Martello-White), the showrunner of the series she is currently acting in, are leaked online. Her best friend and manager, Naomi (Farzad), is doing everything she can to help Suzie with damage control and keeping her career and life on track. But this gross violation of her privacy and dignity is unraveling everything from her relationships to her mental health.
I Hate Suzie is superb. Each episode follows Suzie through the stages of her coping with the leak and its impact on her life and career. Each episode is directed in a slightly different style to reflect the stage Suzie finds herself in. For example, using horror elements and editing while she grapples with fear and paranoia and using a voiceover to represent her inner-thoughts while she works through acceptance. Through it all, Piper acts phenomenally. The slow spiral of her mental health is portrayed so astutely without ever becoming a caricature or over the top. While everyone around her is casting doubt or blame onto Suzie, Piper’s acting makes it impossible not to continuously remember that ultimately, she is the victim, not the other people in her life.
I Hate Suzie‘s subtle brilliance stems from the way the first half of the series plays with the viewers’ sympathy for everybody but Suzie. It tries to make Suzie unlikeable at first so that, like Cob and Carter believe of themselves, viewers may see them as victims. It makes you fight to remember that Suzie is, in fact, the victim of a heinous crime, not them. Much like the real world, where the victims of leaks are easily blamed for having taken lude photos or cheated on their spouses rather than being defended and protected and empathized with, the show walks you along that path in the beginning. Until it bursts your bubble, and you ultimately feel stupid for ever having even considered giving Cob or Carter an ounce of your sympathy.
Yet, I Hate Suzie is more deep and complex than just that one dimension. There is also Suzie’s relationship with her son Frank and her best friend/manager Naomi. Suzie treats both of them pretty poorly. Frank is deaf and often gets used as a prop in his parents’ lives, screaming at each other because he can’t hear or pretending to get along right in front of him while saying terrible things to one another. It’s heartbreaking to see how Frank is treated, especially knowing the relationship Suzie has with her own family. Additionally, there is some discomfort with how a deaf child and actor are used as this prop. Still, it is compensated for with numerous scenes of Suzie or Cob treating him like a real deaf child and getting to see Frank as a full human being, despite being only 7-years-old.
As for Naomi, she’s the type of best friend and manager who puts Suzie before herself constantly in a very typical rom-com kind of way. Suzie treats her rather poorly. But she isn’t just a side character. Naomi has entire scenes to herself nearly every episode and gets to be her own full-fledged person too. As the whole show constantly reflects on what it is to be a woman in a world dominated by men and what it means to have wants, needs, and desires as a woman. Naomi gets to enjoy growth on these fronts just as much so, if not even more, than Suzie does. As somewhat of a foil to Suzie’s character, watching Naomi’s development alongside Suzie’s is excellent, and while more subtle than Piper’s, Farzad’s acting is equally superb.
The show’s use of music throughout is also excellent. It sometimes matches the mood and direction perfectly. At others, it intentionally subverts the mood to illustrate that what we see before us as viewers is not what is going on inside Suzie’s head. Some scenes go on a tad too long, perhaps, but they go on for so long as clear directorial choices that pay off in the end.
You will love I Hate Suzie. Its 8-episode descent into the doldrums of a former child star’s tragedy will leave you emotionally compromised and seriously considering who you see as victims in scandals and why you see them that way.
I Hate Suzie is streaming now on HBO Max.
I Hate Suzie
- Rating - 9/109/10
You will love I Hate Suzy. Its 8-episode descent into the doldrums of a former child star’s tragedy will leave you emotionally compromised and seriously considering who you see as victims in scandals and why you see them that way.