‘I Hate Suzie’ Season 2: HBO Max Show Stars an Incredible Billie Piper

Billie Piper returns as a celebrity whose life is falling apart in this HBO Max show that turns stress into art.

The end of the year is a time for self-reflection. Sometimes when you’re looking for a TV show to watch while the calendar waits to turn the page, the goal is to find something that reflects a little bit of yourself. Relax near a fireplace and let the show wrap you in a warm blanket.

For those who want to go the opposite route and indulge in fear in every detail, Season 2 of I Hate Suzie is here just in time for your year-end celebration of choice. A show that began as a laser-focused glory-dramedy released on HBO Max in the heart of 2020 (not exactly the most reassuring chapter in world history, either) returns for a sequel starring Billie Piper’s former child star Suzie Pickles in a fictional microscope again.

In the cheekily titled “I Hate Suzie Too,” Suzie’s marriage has all but collapsed after the publication of a explosive tabloid story. The resulting custody battle with her estranged husband, Cob (Daniel Ings), is Suzie’s heaviest burden, but not the only one. Her friendship with agent and longtime confidante Naomi (Leila Farzad) has faltered, she’s floundering on a celebrity competition show Dancing with the Stars-style and still dealing with the aftermath of an unwanted pregnancy.

The enduring brilliance of “I Hate Suzie” is the clarity with which it presents all of Suzie’s choices, ranging from the misguided to the catastrophic. The armchair psychology is at a minimum here, especially as Suzie is thrown into situations (reality show confessions, divorce hearings, crisis PR meetings) where she is faced with questions about those decisions. There’s no cheeky ambiguity about what she’s done or what she wants. “I Hate Suzie” becomes a case study about whether her karmic punishment fits the crime.

Everyone in this cast is tied to what this breakneck emotional season needs. There’s a powerful mix of anger, betrayal, and malice that Ings infuses into every Cob interaction. Farzad somehow keeps all of those feelings on Naomi’s side, mostly repressed in the way people in rocky friendships manage to weather them. Suzie’s son Frank (Matthew Jordan-Caws) also manages the seesaw between a child who adores his parents and uses them as targets in uncertain times.

The series sees the return of actress-turned-child star Suzie Pickles (Billie Piper). Suzie has a new agent, new PR and a new job - she's dancing for likes on Dance Crazee, a reality TV competition that has audiences hooked. After losing everyone she cares about, Suzie returns to her first love - the public. In this three-part anti-Christmas Christmas special, Suzie fights to win back the love of the British public while her personal life spirals out of control. Will she win their hearts/votes? And restore her reputation? And at what price?

“I hate Suzie”

Tom Beard/HBO Max

And there’s not enough praise for Piper, who embraces every inch of Suzie’s flaws without a shred of judgement. You can see the mental gymnastics Suzie goes through to justify every impulsive decision. When there’s a slim chance things could go their way, there’s a glimmer of hope peeking through Piper’s face. In a season full of devastating realizations and overwhelming disappointments, it’s enlightening to see the points where Suzie is truly happy. “I Hate Suzie” is at its worst when Suzie is a step too slow to realize that the things that bring that happiness are quickly slipping out of her grasp.

As you might imagine, this isn’t exactly a happy part of television. But there’s a boldness to this series’ approach to stress, as orchestrated by writer/co-creator Lucy Prebble, where the only way out is the journey. This season’s director, Dawn Shadforth, finds the optimal times to take a claustrophobic approach to where the camera is in relation to Suzie and her volatile state of mind. It’s a testament to both Prebble and Shadforth that the same sense of tension flows through the entire season, no matter how distant everyone is. Beginning with plenty of forward motion and hardly ever slowing down, this is essentially the Mad Max: Fury Road of backstage show business drama.

“I Hate Suzie” is also one of the strongest arguments for the British TV model. After a lengthy first season, this new three-episode arc packs a punch. There’s no padding or downtime or deep breaths to recover. Each new conversation adds another stone to Suzie’s chest. You end up almost sharing this struggle to breathe. It’s the equivalent of building an entire season out of that one exciting episode of The Bear from earlier this year. At the risk of pitting two great TV shows against each other, this finale makes this twenty-minute pressure cooker feel like a breezy afternoon stroll.

Shadforth also helps deliver some magnetic dance sequences here, from the hazy opening of the season to the various rounds of “Dance Crazee Xmas” that Suzie both endures and indulges in. It’s psychological ballet as a metaphor, used to perfection. Achievement is the one area of ​​Suzie’s life where she seems to have figured things out properly. It’s also the closest thing “I Hate Suzie” has to a breather. Part of what makes this show fascinating is the act of preparing for what’s to come when the music stops.

Both seasons of I Hate Suzie are available to stream now on HBO Max.

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https://www.indiewire.com/2022/12/i-hate-suzie-season-2-hbo-max-billie-piper-1234794259/ ‘I Hate Suzie’ Season 2: HBO Max Show Stars an Incredible Billie Piper

Lindsay Lowe

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