Five years after taking the film world by storm with his genre-bending, expectation-shattering debut “Sorry to Bother You,” Boots Riley is returning to narrative storytelling in a big way. His latest project, the upcoming Prime Video series “I’m a Virgo,’ once again explores issues of race in America… through the eyes of a Black man who happens to be 13 feet tall.
Per the official synopsis, the series is a darkly comedic fantastical coming-of-age joyride about Cootie (Jharrel Jerome), a 13-foot-tall young Black man in Oakland, CA. Having grown up hidden away, passing time on a diet of comic books and TV shows, he escapes to experience the beauty and contradictions of the real world. He forms friendships, finds love, navigates awkward situations, and encounters his idol, the real life superhero named The Hero (Walton Goggins).
Riley’s comments about the series have always been rather cryptic, as the auteur appears content to let his show’s high concept speak for itself. In a 2020 interview with IndieWire, he shied away from offering any specific details in an attempt to keep his overarching vision under wraps.
“I don’t want to give people a sense of what to expect. That’s my whole thing,” Riley said. “What I’ll say about it is it’s about a 13-foot tall Black man who lives in Oakland. It deals with a group of kids at an age that, because they’re Black, they’re not allowed to be kids. They’re not allowed to come of age. It’s about the way the world sees him, as opposed to how he sees himself.”
He continued: “For me, it’s really experiential. How do I keep you interested and wanting to keep watching, and how do I get you do feel something? I don’t want you to keep watching because I have done this easy, manipulative thing that makes you have to press ‘watch the next one’ again. I hate stories that don’t end… I’m not saying how many seasons it will be, but there’s a story that ends.”
Riley wrote and directed all seven episodes of “I’m a Virgo.” The series is set to premiere at SXSW this month before streaming on Prime Video later this year. Watch the teaser below.