R. Kelly is a lot of things—singer, writer, sort-of-actor—but what he’s not is deep. At least, that’s the message to take away from Kelly’s magnum opus, Trapped In The Closet, which makes its triumphant return this weekend after five years off trapped in some closet or something. Yes, it’s about AIDS, divorce, crime, and religion, but all of that is second to the fact that Trapped In The Closet and its cast of wacky characters is 100 percent ridiculous.
With Chapters 23-33 airing on IFC, Trapped In The Closet has finally gone beyond its initial fanbase of Kelly obsessives and fans of things that make no sense. R. Kelly hasn’t changed anything for television, though. Fans of dumb dirty jokes, fat suits, bad makeup, and repetitive melodies will blessedly still find tons to like.
What fans won’t find, though, is an answer to what “the package” is. At the end of the first 22 chapters, most viewers assumed that “the package” was AIDS and that maybe, just maybe, Kells was about to take Trapped In The Closet in a socially conscious direction, with characters like Rufus and Cathy dealing with the consequences of their infidelity. Nope! As it turns out, “the package” is only mentioned once, in passing, in the new episodes where, instead, the drama centers around mystery phone calls that all the characters are getting but no one seems to be able to elaborate on.
If Trapped In The Closet has proved anything, it’s that R. Kelly has a flair for storytelling. Just like the singer can turn a hell of a phrase, he can spin a doozy of a tale. What he can’t do, though, is end that story or even get it anywhere past the climax. There are a few big reveals in the new chapters of Trapped In The Closet, like that Pimp Lucius is Rosie and Randolph’s son, but nothing all that major. What viewers are left with instead is a series of questions. Why can’t we know what “the package” is for sure? Why don’t we even get a sense of what these phone calls are about after almost 40 minutes of talking about them? Why would Cathy just go back to Rufus even though he’s admitted he’s still in love with Chuck—and why would he want her back? And why is one of Pimp Lucius’ hos blind? There are no answers.
There is drama, though. Kelly has taken on two new roles: Beeno, an especially evil mobster out to get Twan and Sylvester, and a marriage counselor who gets a lot of screen time but is mostly incidental. Beano ends the new chapters by threatening the lives of Twan, Sylvester, and their families and friends. It’s a big cliffhanger, and one that has the potential to play out in a relatively scintillating way. Of course, because this is Trapped In The Closet, there’s no guarantee of anything beyond that. Here’s hoping that Kelly can actually resolve some storylines in 2015 or whenever the next round of chapters première.
- For some reason, the new chapters feature bumpers and one-on-one interviews for some sort of TV show called either TE or Out Of The Closet With Larry. Maybe that’s another quirk that will be eventually explained?
- God bless anyone who worked on these chapters, especially if they were at all involved in any way with the script. Can you imagine? “Uh, Robert, wait… What happened to Tina?”
- Chapters 23-33 are airing at once on IFC but for non-premium cable subscribers, all the chapters will run—one at a time—on IFC.com next week.