Jordan Peele’s ‘Lorena’ Is An Imperfect Attempt At Illuminating The Bobbitt Case’s Real Horrors

Film/TV Editor
02.15.19

Amazon Studios

Jordan Peele, for lack of a better term, is enjoying a moment, although I dislike describing the situation in that way. A literal moment would imply that his directorial and screenwriting prowess, as demonstrated in the phenomenally resonant Get Out, is fleeting or trendy. Hopefully, that’s not the case, for Peele has proven himself to be adept at digging into the psychological and thought-provoking aspects of how society reacts to atrocities. With Get Out, and likely with his followup, Us, Peele wields his satiric take on horror as a reflective societal mirror, much like the great horror masters of decades past. His interest in the “whys” is likely what led him to executive produce the Amazon docuseries about Lorena Bobbitt, who infamously removed her husband’s penis in 1993.

The horror of losing one’s penis of the worst things that men can imagine, right?

So, it’s easy to see why Peele was attracted to Lorena, 25 years after “Bobbitt” became a pop culture punchline in 1993. The time was also ripe, especially with the #MeToo movement, to dig into the physical and emotional abuse that caused Lorena to “snap” and commit such a visceral act, along with showing how her story — and the followup battle of the sexes — still remains scarily relevant today. A possible issue, though, is that Peele has his hands in a lot of pots right now. There’s Us (directing), The Twilight Zone (hosting and executive producing), and Weird City (producing), to name the bigger titles. Lorena isn’t a total success, but it’s not a failure, yet one would have never guessed that Peele was involved, if his name wasn’t all over the thing.

With that said, the four episodes feel very disjointed and scattered. The series doesn’t demonstrate a cohesive vision, although it does make repeated mention of how poorly Lorena was treated not only by John Wayne Bobbit but by the court system and society. The series also does alright with following up on the chain of literal events — both husband and wife were cleared of criminal wrongdoing, yet he went free, and she remained in custody for a lengthy mental evaluation — as well as hammering away at a sensationalized summation of the story: “This was a modern love story. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy marries girl. Girl cuts off boy’s penis.”

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