Through Netflix, I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of British TV. Don’t send help.
I’ve binged Peep Show, Fresh Meat, Broadchurch and Doctor Foster. Then after Christmas, Netflix dangled the lure of Crazyhead, promising the misadventures of a bowling alley worker and a “nonconformist” as they battle demons—both inner and literal—as this idiosyncratic duo survive their 20s in contemporary England. How could I refuse?
The show kicks off like a plethora of nightmare-inducing true crime shows: a girl in pajamas, bound, gagged and screaming in the trunk of a car. After arriving in an abandoned warehouse, the lid is popped by two figures shrouded in shadows and wearing scary clown masks. But then the tension is broken as the hostage wriggles free from her gag to yell, “Amy! I know that’s you. That’s my jacket.” Meet Amy (Cara Theobold) and Raquel (Susan Wokoma), amateur demon hunters bumbling through the exorcism of the former’s roommate, Suzanne (Riann Steele).
As Amy peels down her tights to piss on her roomie (all part of the ritual), the horror-dramedy from Misfits creator Howard Overman flashes back to three days before, when this blonde bowling alley attendant began weaning off the medication meant to keep her from hallucinating. But hey, what if the visions of seeing people burning from the inside out doesn’t mean Amy is crazy? A long-realized seer of the damned, Raquel opens Amy’s eyes to the reality that she can spot a demon where others see the “such a nice guy” who will days later slaughter his loved ones, much to the shock and awe of neighbors and the evening news. The world might think they’re crazy, but they know the truth. And from this odd pot, friendship blooms!
Get a taste for this curious band of terror with this trailer from E4, the UK channel that debuted Crazyhead last fall.
The Big Bad is a demon looking to bring more of his team over to our plane. The big plot is of the “save the world” variety. But what makes Crazyhead such a standout amid so many fighting undead dramas is the irreverent and goofy brand of humor throbbing hard at its core. Whether it’s Amy fantastically fumbling flirtations with Raquel’s dizzyingly hot brother (Arinze Kene), Raquel’s painfully awkward attempts to bond through nipple-pinching and footie pajama-sharing, or the scathing shade shed by harried single-mum/seer assassin (Lu Corfield), this 44-minute show is packed with sass and silliness that helps balance out the sinister.
Between its kick-ass heroines, cheeky humor, and supernatural baddies, Crazyhead has drawn comparisons to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. Which fair, but it’s not as satirical or sharp as Buffy at its best. The six eps that make up season one are sometimes sloppy, spinning wheels with a few too many menacing monologues from lead demon Callum (a suitably sneery Tony Curran) and too much screentime indulging in the pathetic seduction attempts of Amy’s co-worker/pestering Nice Guy (Lewis Reeves), who repeatedly mistakes friendship for sexual obligation. Yet for these distractions, Crazyhead is still a thrill, and at its best when focusing on its overwhelmed heroines and the serious stakes they face.
By the end of episode one, you realize Crazyhead took notes on Joss Whedon’s how to hook an audience book, and that no character is safe. Well, not no character. This isn’t Game of Thrones. But for a jaunty dram-com about plucky demon hunters, I was stunned by the dark twists its story takes. Enthralled, I ripped through season one faster than Raquel does a demon’s rectum. (It’s a thing.) Now, I’m anxiously awaiting confirmation on season two, because damn that final sequence—that blessedly avoids cliffhanger gimmickry—makes me want to see what’ll happen with our girls next!
But you shouldn’t wait. In an era where a certain villainous gasbag is threatening to make the lives of everyday women exponentially worse, an action-packed comedy featuring women, who’ve been discounted by society for being too emotional and “crazy,” triumphing over a sneaky force of evil can feel pretty damn cathartic.
Watch Crazyhead on Netflix.
Kristy Puchko can’t wait until you see all these eps, so we can dish on spoilers!