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Crazyhead / Credit: StudioCanal

Crazyhead and mourning what could have been

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May 18, 2020

When fans name favorite shows that were gone too soon, Crazyhead is almost always on the list. Years after its cancellation, a lot of us are still trying to wrap our heads around how something so good was so incredibly short-lived. Perfect cast, great dialogue, and a healthy dose of demons made for one of the greatest, yet briefest, genre series in recent years.

Written and produced by Howard Overman of Misfits and Atlantis fame, Crazyhead combines the chaotic sci-fi humor of those shows while infusing the plot with a strong horror vibe. Yet it is the brilliant characterization that tugged at our heartstrings and won us over.

Crazyhead / Credit: StudioCanal

The series opens on Raquel and Amy bickering over the best way to bury a body, which turns out to be that of Amy's best friend and roommate Suzanne. Suzie was possessed, and by attempting to exorcise the demon inside of her, Raquel and Amy accidentally kill her. The two are both seers, meaning that they can see the true forms of the demons that walk among us. They also both happen to be awkward, isolated people who feel unfulfilled in their lives, so they immediately strike up one of the great friendships of genre television.

Through only six episodes, the character development is surprisingly advanced as Amy and Raquel's bond is repeatedly tested — first through Suzie's death, then later when Raquel not only loses her father but is also betrayed by a love interest. Raquel is at the center of a plot to bring countless demons of Hell to Earth, and while she and Amy do manage to intervene before the world comes under siege, they don't exactly save the day. Many demons survive to wreak havoc on the world. Thus does the series set up a perfect premise ensuring much in the way of demon-hunting hijinks, which is unfortunately never followed up on.

Crazyhead / Credit: StudioCanal

Comparisons to Buffy the Vampire Slayer are ubiquitous, and they are well founded. Crazyhead took a lot of the best elements of Buffy and improved the surrounding minutiae to make for a stronger setup. There are some definite character parallels, but the updates to these archetypes modernized them enough to make for a different story entirely. Raquel is a dynamic take on a "slayer" whose anger constantly boils over and, most importantly, who isn't always right. Amy is driven by insecurity and doubt. Jake is highly sexual and has a crush on Amy, but never veers wildly into slut-shaming. Meanwhile, Callum's peppy narcissism and cruelty are chillingly casual while taking it down a notch on the giddy, over-the-top enthusiasm.

Crazyhead has a small set of recurring villains that help make the show the cult favorite it is today. Callum is great, but likewise amazing is Mercy, a demon from Hell whose current human identity is that of a single mom struggling to raise her child. When she is asked by Callum to kill Raquel's father, she immediately gets on the phone to ask her babysitter if she can stay late that night, noting that she'll never possess a single mum again because "there's no support." Later, in a brawl with Amy, Amy stabs her in the chest with a plastic toy from her child's floor, and throughout the rest of the series Mercy is enraged, not that Amy stabbed her, but that she ruined her favorite bra when she did so.

Even with all the hijinks afoot, the focus of the series is the friendship between Amy and Raquel. Susan Wokoma and Cara Theobold were both brilliant casting choices, and their sometimes tense, sometimes funny, always painfully sincere dynamic is a real show-stealer. Raquel puts her heart on the line with Amy, melting her reserve. By the end of the season, they are a solid team. Riann Steele is likewise amazing as Suzanne, the deceased friend who returns from the grave detached and vampiric while showing an uncomfortable and very real connection to her old life and memories. Meanwhile, Raquel's love interest Harry is great as an untrustworthy demon who uses her grief over losing her father as leverage to gain her trust. He is affable and charming, and his sense of humor melds perfectly with Raquel's esoteric interests and rambling dialogue. When he betrays her, it hurts.

Crazyhead / Credit: StudioCanal

In the end, this show is the best, and it's still a little weird that there are only six episodes in existence. We have an essentially perfect arc, but the sadness of never being able to follow up with Amy and Raquel as they track down dozens of demons one by one remains valid and true.

As much as we love every part of this show, we can't help but dream of the alternate reality where Crazyhead ran for nine or ten seasons. Still, if you're going to only do six episodes of a show, this is the way to do it.

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