I Hate Suzie is the new TV series hitting Sky Atlantic that everyone will be talking about this week. Here, creators Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble talk to Stylist about how the show explores the anxiety women in their 30s experience, and why that’s so important to openly discuss.
Watching I Hate Suzie will probably make you feel on edge.
The new Sky Atlantic series follows the story of Suzie, a 30-something actor who finds herself navigating the aftermath of having her phone is hacked, and private, nude photographs being leaked. Her misjudged reactions will frustrate you. The close-up shots oh her drug binges will make you wince. And you’ll question everything she reveals about her past along the way – not quite sure if you’ve heard the full truth.
If you find yourself relating to the constant state of anxiety these situations throw her into, the show’s creators – good friends Billie Piper and Lucy Prebble – have done exactly what they set out to do.
“One of the things we talked a lot about when creating this was the anxiety over the ways our lives can collapse around us in our 30s,” Prebble, who is also part of the writing team behind hit series Succession, tells Stylist. “It’s a crazy time for a woman, I think. You’re either saying, ‘Oh god I made the wrong decisions in my 20s’ or, ‘Oh god I didn’t make any decisions in my 20s and I should have done’.
“She’s very recognisable from life, but she’s not really been seen on screen before,” Prebble continues. “That combination of being eager to please, at the same time as being ambitious and angry. She’s also very, very anxious all of the time, as well as having this weird performative confidence in her work.”
The title of each episode is named after a process in the grief cycle: shock, denial, fear, shame, bargaining, guilt, anger and acceptance. Anyone who has been through this cycle – whether it was over a death, a relationship, a redundancy or a trauma – will likely relate to Suzie’s ‘wrong’ decisions in bad situations.
“It’s something we feel is very strongly rooted in every moment of the show,” Piper explains. “That feeling of, ‘Oh don’t do that, don’t do that, don’t do that…’ But it’s exactly what you would probably do.”
“I really relate to that,” laughs Prebble, “70% of my life has been spent saying, ‘Oh don’t do that, that’s not the right thing to do’ but I’m really just biding my time until I do it.”
Piper and Prebble agree that we rarely get flawed characters because – aside from the fact so few women are given the opportunity to tell these stories – dramas are also so often written from the opposite perspective: a hero who does the thing they know is right in a world where everyone else is wrong.
They both cite Ruben Östlund (Force Majeure, The Square) as a big influence: a director who only makes movies about cowards. “How weird is it that we only ever watch things about people making the right decisions?” questions Prebble.
It’s a trope that has been successfully challenged in recent years, with brilliant female-led shows such as Fleabag and I May Destroy You. And I Hate Suzie is sure to help finally bring us to a place where women are free to just be completely real on screen. But it hasn’t been easy to get to this point.
The pair, who also worked on Secret Diary of a Call Girl together, have been working on this project for four years. “When we started talking about what we wanted to create, we weren’t sure anyone would even let us – it took us a while to find a home for it,” explains Prebble. “Channels like to develop their own stuff but we’d decided to develop it together then go and sell it. It’s a more powerful position to be in, but its not necessarily what they like.”
But they stuck to their guns, knowing what great things happen when they collaborate, and why that’s important.
“We have a very similar taste in dark humour and that’s really helpful,” says Piper. “Within our friendship, there’s very little Lucy can say to me that is shocking or frightening. And I think that works both ways. I certainly appreciate that; it makes me feel less alone in life. It’s also definitely the same in the work that we’ve been doing.”
And that’s exactly why you’ll be talking to all your friends about I Hate Suzie – it tackles those things that we only dare talk to our close mates about, in all their complicated, hairy and often darkly hilarious glory.
We actually love Suzie.
Sky original I Hate Suzie is coming to Sky Atlantic and NOW TV on 27 August.
Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…