The polarizing director, Boots Riley, is back! Utilizing his insane genre-mash-up style from SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, he enters new territory by making a unique version of a superhero origin story.
In my review of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, I said that Riley’s style is a mix of:
- Spike Lee shining a light on racism
- Terry Gilliam’s fantasy-world building
- Charlie Kaufman’s offbeat sensibilities
- David Zucker / Jim Abrahams slapstick
The same is true of his latest TV series that, is all over the map. When it works, the show is a smashing success that adds a fresh take on what it means to be a villain and the power storytelling has within politics. When it doesn’t work, it gets stuck in a weird love story that takes away from the inevitable battle between The Hero and The Supervillain.
Yet, what I want to call out about this TV series is Walter Goggins as The Hero. The best episode of the series (E7: It Requires Trust on My Part) wisely spends time away from Cootie’s (Jharrel Jerome) larger-than-life story and thrusts audiences into understanding the flaws of the corporate Hero. It’s a brilliant episode with several tonal shifts that showcase why Walter Goggins is one of the best character actors working in TV.
But back to Cootie’s story, as he’s the “hero.” What makes him a compelling character is the soulfulness that Jharrel Jerome portrays him with. Imagine being a giant locked in your home for your formative years and finally getting a taste of freedom. That’s his story arc. Sadly, that exploration is derailed in E6: Balance Beam, when we spend nearly an entire episode watching him explore his sexuality. It’s a lot to process and could’ve been a little story instead of a “huge” focus point.
I’M A VIRGO is a hot mess you cannot ignore. Boots Riley packs a punch of themes ranging from the political impact of advertising, comic books connecting life, inequality, corporate America, and so much more. Watch it to see Jones’s (Kara Yong) inspiring speeches, but be forewarned, it’s not the comic page-turner that Boots Riley had in mind.
The entire first season is available on Prime Video.