I'M A VIRGO: SEASON ONE
Starring: Jharrel Jerome, Mike Epps, Carmen Ejogo, Walton Goggins, Brett Gray, Kara Young, Allius Barnes, and Olivia Washington
Creator: Boots Riley
When it comes to I’m a Virgo, I’m a man divided. It’s outstanding in many ways, from the social satire to the brilliant racial commentary to the performances (Walton Goggins, especially) to its absurdist vibe. In moments, it’s remarkable and unlike anything else on television. However, as a complete series, it struggled to hold my attention at times. Truth be told, I could say the same about Boots Riley’s previous offering, Sorry to Bother You, so if you liked that film, you’ll probably enjoy this series too. Riley clearly has tremendous talent, but he needs to find a better balance between storytelling and his grand ideas.
I’m a Virgo confirms what Sorry to Bother You already suggested: Boots Riley is one of our most unique auteurs. His imagination is allowed to run wild with this series, and his creativity and genius pour out of every frame. The satire isn’t too on the nose either while actually saying something interesting about race relations and capitalism. But, more importantly, there is a surprising amount of heart and depth that had me personally invested despite all the insanity, thanks in part to Jharrel Jerome’s performance. I hope Boots Riley can continue doing whatever he wants.
Director Boots Riley is a wild cat who commits to telling uniquely interesting and poignant stories. His TV debut, I’m a Virgo, combines fantastical, political, and cultural sensibilities to illustrate how systems of power can prey on those who are underprivileged and different. But it also shows that different can be powerful. At times, it’s heartfelt and moving; at others, it’s weird and creepy. It’s a lot of things, all at once, and while not all of it works, it’s consistently Boots Riley, who, for better or worse, stays true to his artistry.
As a huge fan of Boots Riley’s 2018 satire Sorry to Bother You, I have eagerly waited to see what he would do next. While his new series, I’m a Virgo, certainly exhibits the same audacity and creative energy that drove his last project, it more so flows through this one rather than powering it. That’s not to say it’s bad, but it does sometimes feel like it’s somewhat unfocused, which can make watching it feel like more of an obligation than an opportunity. I still enjoyed it in the moment, but the satire operates less successfully than before.