Boots Riley opened up about his limited series I'm A Virgo and its inspirations. The story follows Oakland-born, 13-foot tall, 19 year old Cootie, played by Jharrel Jerome, who, after being let out into the world at a late age, meets a group of teen activists. Riley, director of Sorry to Bother You, shared its anti-capitalist sentiments, per The Hollywood Reporter.
“I’m attracted to large contradictions,” Riley said. “I think about what I would think of as a good lyric. There’s this setup, which hopefully is good and says something in and of itself. But then there’s this other line that comes in that maybe feels ironic, right? Like a contradiction you weren’t expecting. It surprises. It points out something. … The contradictions of capitalism — how it works — are going to echo through almost everything we do.”
Riley further explained these contradictions within the character. “I don’t know where the thought first came up, but when you see a 13-foot-tall Black man named Cootie walking down the street, the last thing you’re thinking about is how he feels about himself,” Riley continued. “It’s all about what you want to believe and project. It leads to so many things, but specifically toward race. In this case, the title, which came later, I’m a Virgo, speaks to that — nobody cares. His astrological sign is the last thing on someone’s mind.”
What Riley really wants is for his viewers to dig deeper than what's being served to you. “When you’re watching TV, you’re told you’re nothing. People that you know are nothing. What’s important are these stories, these people who are on TV. And so it could lead you to obsessing over them and feeling like that’s your connection to something bigger than you,” he said. “When I did get involved in radical politics, it was because it’s like, ‘Oh, I can be part of making history.' People want something more important for themselves. They want connection, which is very much what Cootie and Flora [Cootie’s love interest played by Olivia Washington)] are about.”
See Boots Riley's I'm A Virgo on Prime Video.