Writer-director Boots Riley, who came out of nowhere with his totally bizarre 2018 film Sorry to Bother You, follows up with something even weirder.
I’m a Virgo is a brilliant seven-episode TV series on Amazon Prime; I’m guessing next to nobody knows it’s out there. Riley directs every episode of the saga of Cootie (Jharrel Jerome), a 13-foot-tall black man sheltered by his loving uncle and aunt (Mike Epps and Carmen Ejogo) who aches to go outside the confines of his home and see the real world.
Eventually he does get outside, where he frequents a strange fast-food joint called Bing Bang Burger with his newfound friends, and falls for Flora (Olivia Washington), a Bing Bang server. He also has encounters with a local hero simply called Hero (Walton Goggins), a writer-entrepreneur billionaire à la Elon Musk (who has become his own seemingly fictional creation).
The show features great performances all around, especially from Jerome and Epps. They all manage to occupy Riley’s incredibly strange world without it completely engulfing them.
In some ways, the show is like a superhero series—but each superpower is more like a curse, with consequences. This show’s version of the Flash has to work really hard to understand people around her and slow everything down. It’s an interesting approach.
Riley is one of the weirdest guys working behind a camera these days, and it’s a beautiful thing. He’s the rare creator who leaves viewers in a constant state of surprise and enjoyable bewilderment. I never know what’s going to happen in his projects, and I’m still not sure I know exactly what I saw. I just know that it is strangely coherent—and I can’t get enough of it.
I’ve focused so much on the visionary weirdness that I have yet to mention that I’m a Virgo is also one of the year’s best comedies. Riley mines many laughs in the midst of the mayhem.
I’m a Virgo is now streaming on Amazon Prime.