Sue Perkins: Perfectly Legal Review 2022 Tv Show Series Cast Crew Online
Sue Perkins is about to be shot in Bogotá. She meets her gunman at an armoured clothing factory that sells its bulletproof vests to 38 presidents all over the world. “I shoot my lawyer,” says the kind-eyed, mild-mannered Miguel Caballero. “I shoot my wife. I shoot 800 times … many people.” Now, at point blank range, he’s going to shoot Sue. “The problem is I don’t do danger,” she explains, as she will many times in Sue Perkins: Perfectly Legal (Netflix), usually right before she does something really dangerous again. “I specialise in making elaborate puns on baking shows.”
The moment has come. Both Perkins and Caballero take deep breaths. He raises the gun to her belly (which I wish she would stop making “gelatinous” jokes about because it’s just your average middle-aged, medium-sized belly). Fires the shot. Perkins looks shocked. Afterwards she reflects on the difference between shaking things up a bit – the premise of her maiden voyage into the high-octane seas of Netflix miniseries – and getting a .38 calibre bullet in your guts. “They say the closer you are to death the more alive you feel,” she says. “I can now say that the closer you are to death … the closer you are to death.”
This scene perfectly captures the weird tone of Perfectly Legal. Its three episodes career from bizarre, disturbing, trashy, silly, hilarious and entertaining to profoundly moving – the latter right at the end, when she takes a mind-expanding drug in La Paz and, after five hours of vomiting, has some deep revelations about the death of her father and sadness around not having children. Jeez. What a trip. Mine, I mean, not hers.
The reason for all this risk-taking in Latin America, where in each location she hooks up with a local comedian, is Perkins’ desire to escape middle age. She says she is terrified of becoming staid. Her biggest fear is “being stuck”. So, at a crossroads where all travel presenters probably find themselves eventually, she processes her midlife crisis by doing a bunch of extreme, I-can’t-believe-it’s-legal stuff on camera. She joins a death cult in Mexico. Goes white water rafting with some sex workers in Colombia’s Rio Negro. Gets “gloriously, horribly, beautifully, disgustingly drunk” in the largest gay club in Latin America. Which isn’t extreme, but for those who fondly recall Perkins getting hammered on tankards of ale while dressed as a Victorian lady in The Supersizers Go …, is joyous. Sue Perkins gets drunk is a miniseries all its own.
A fair bit of Perfectly Legal is not that shocking. Like her trip to Mexico’s national firework festival in Tultepec where 75% of the country’s fireworks are made and set off in a single night of explosions. Every year hundreds are injured, but Perkins and her safety adviser, wearing protective clothing, join the screaming throng. “It feels like a normal relaxed festival vibe,” she observes, watching a parade of giant bulls filled with fireworks, “but the bulls are going to detonate, who knows when, and approximately 15% of everyone here will end up in a burns unit.”
Most disturbing of all, she goes to the Colombian coast in search of men who have sex with donkeys. And finds them. Cue a vile scene in which dozens of men drinking in a bar laugh, gesture and boast that the donkeys love it while Perkins looks uncomfortable but gamely tries to keep on joking. She is clearly aware that a line has been crossed but the show must go on. The scene culminates with Perkins – a committed vegan and animal lover who has her dog’s initials tattooed on her arm – stroking a donkey whose face has been blurred while softly saying: “I bet I’m the first human that’s approached you from the front in a very long time, little one.” At which point I started to wonder if she was trapped in a contractual hell of her own making. It’s a genuinely disturbing, wildly unfunny scene, the point of which I cannot understand.
Still, how I love her. Perkins does what most white Oxbridge-educated travel presenters cannot: namely go to other countries and behave herself. She is warm, goofy, kind, unscripted, funny and respectful. So I have all the time in the world to watch her, and only her, downing shots and throwing balls at explosive targets in a Colombian traditional sport called tejo. Hilarious! But the biggest danger of this strain of “extreme and shockingly legal!” travel documentary is how perilously close it comes to othering. What are we really doing when we reduce other countries to their quirks and extremities? Especially considering the current egregious state of our own. In truth, I liked it better when a Sue Perkins travel series was less about her pushing herself to go to a São Paulo love motel and hook up with some swingers and more about her holding hands with a wee old lady she had just met on the banks of the Mekong River.