I Hate Suzie

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Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie.
Billie Piper in I Hate Suzie.
Photo: Showmax


I Hate Suzie




5/5 Stars


Suzie Pickles has her life upended when she is hacked and pictures of her emerge online in an extremely compromising position. Aided by her best friend and manager, Naomi, Suzie tries to hold her life together.


After making successful debuts in the UK and the US in August and November 2020, respectively, it's only been a matter of time that I Hate Suzie would hit the South African streaming circuit. The series, which has raked in several British Academy Award nominations, is now available to binge on Showmax and is easily something you could devour in one sitting.

Firstly, this show is so well titled. The irony of falling in love with Suzie as she navigates through a series of events in which it seems like everyone hates her is just so brilliant. And, well, I guess the point of it as well.

Suzie Pickles, played by co-creator Billie Piper, is a fictional British celebrity whose whole life is turned upside down when photos of her in a highly compromising position are leaked online. Suzie's unravelling is told in eight parts, each named after a stage of grief/trauma: Shock, Denial, Fear, Shame, Bargaining, Guilt, Anger, and Acceptance. Created and written by real-life friends Piper and Lucy Prebble (who also wrote Succession), I Hate Suzie is not entirely made up. Piper is a well-known name in Britain, having risen to fame at 15 when her 1998 single Because We Want To debuted at No1. In addition, a lot of the material was written from personal experience from both Piper and Prebble.

On the surface, I Hate Suzie revolves around this great hack that not only exposed Suzie in a compromising position but outed an affair she was having as well. But beneath the surface of this extraordinarily raw and brutally funny show is so much more than that. It brings forward so many truths that people choose to avoid, one being that we are all complicated as hell. There's no one way to feel about anything, no single emotion that can resolve anything.

The first half-hour episode brilliantly sets the tone for the daringly intimate episodes to come. Suzie has just found out about the photos and has to grapple with the world seeing her have sex with an unnamed man who is clearly not her husband. At the same time, a camera crew takes over her home for an elaborate photo shoot. In addition, her controlling yet 'supportive' husband Cob (Daniel Ings) is having a fit in the garden, her young son Frank (Matthew Jordan-Caws) struggles to understand what's happening, and her no-nonsense agent/childhood best friend Naomi (Leila Farzad) is trying to control the situation. If just reading this doesn't make you feel claustrophobic, then watching it certainly will.

Throughout Suzie's efforts to do damage control, we find her looking for ways to appease everyone else but herself. Almost as if this occurrence is not something that happened to her but rather something she brought upon herself and should take responsibility for. If you're having a bout of déjà vu, it's because this is well within the theme of a society that implicitly demands women to do backflips to accommodate everyone's needs but their own. Thankfully, Prebble and Piper take this theme and throw it right out the window, because who is society to tell a woman how she should feel about anything?

With each stage of Suzie's grief comes new revelations about herself and immense character growth, albeit destructive and consequential at times. I find this is something every person could relate to at some point in their lives.

Added to the overall theme of dealing with being exposed against her will and trying to get her life back on track, each stage of grief looks at underlying themes that fall well within the category. An example of this is something Naomi goes through in the episode titled "Shame". This incident is based on a real-life experience that Prebble tells The New Yorker she was exposed to. Naomi is sitting on a train when she notices the man sitting next to her is masturbating. She chooses to look away but asks about the process of reporting a crime once arriving at her destination. After learning that it would take hours, Naomi resorts to "go to the website" and leaves.

"I've always thought that guy just went and wanked loads next to people," Prebble tells the publication of her experience. Adding that it's something she's never heard people talk about before but is still so relevant – "the shame of not reporting something."

I could harp on about this show forever. But before I share too many spoilers, let me say this: I Hate Suzie is uncomfortable, messy and hard to watch but also makes it impossible to look away. Moreover, it offers a vital narrative about the uncompromising hoops female celebrities and women, in general, need to jump through to remain palatable to the viewing public.


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