Roush Review: Paying the Piper in ‘Suzie,’ a Dark Show-biz Satire

Billie Piper I Hate Suzie Pickles
Courtesy of HBO Max

Haters gonna hate, but anyone with a taste for brutal pop-culture satire is probably going to dig I Hate Suzie, a manic eight-part dark comedy about the sour side of celebrity. And it’s no accident that the fictional Suzie Pickles has much in common with Billie Piper, who plays her and co-created (with Succession‘s Lucy Prebble) the series.

Both Suzie and the real-life Billie are former U.K. teen pop stars and sci-fi cult figures, but Piper (Doctor Who) sends up rather than celebrates this achievement when Suzie finds herself in quite the pickle. On the day of an ill-advised at-home photo shoot, Suzie learns to her dismay that her phone has been hacked and very intimate and naughty photos leaked, leaving her career and home life in shambles.

The first episode, titled “Shock,” depicts Suzie as thoroughly out of control, in a disoriented daze of stomach-churning panic as she tries to act nice to a crew of strangers while her stunned and enraged husband (Daniel Ings) contrives to lock her out of the house and keep her from her adored hearing-impaired son (Matthew Jordan-Caws). With only her loyal friend and manager, Naomi (Leila Farzad), to see her through the eye of a social-media and tabloid tornado, Suzie spirals in a journey that mirrors the stages of grief, with episodes titled “Denial,” “Bargaining,” “Anger,” and so on.

Forget the Nazi zombie TV show she’s currently working on. Whatever will Disney, which was about to offer her a comeback role as a mature princess, think of her?

You might squirm, but will never hate the excellent Piper, as Suzie careens from self-pity to self-disgust in a surreal blur of debauched despair. By the time she’s offered a role in a Monica Lewinsky musical, you may not know whether to laugh or cry with her. Go with laughter.

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The star also discusses singing in the series coming to HBO Max, plus if there could be a second season.

I Hate Suzie, Series Premiere, Thursday, November 19, HBO Max