Trapped in the Closet, R. Kelly’s bizarre, sprawling R&B epic that Jody Rosen once called “the most widely viewed psychedelic chitlin-circuit soap opera in history,” and which has been parodied by the master of musical satire, will return with 20 new chapters on IFC in November. The first new entry is online already, and it reintroduces us to many of the zany characters (one of them, by the way, played by Michael K. Williams, of The Wire and Boardwalk Empire fame). The latest installment consists of a series of phone calls between them, which Kelly narrates as only he can.
For those unfamiliar with the singer’s magnum opus, Kelly has taken the sort of broad characterizations you might find in a Tyler Perry movie and somehow wedded them to something like the subversive sensibility of John Waters circa Pink Flamingos. The series began in 2005 and has become a kitschy pop culture phenomenon, with its ever-expanding cast of eccentric characters (all sung/voiced by Kelly) and plot twists. For instance: In earlier chapters, Williams’ character comes home to find that his wife (a white woman with an exaggerated faux-Southern accent) is hiding a midget called “Big Man” (his stripper name, because he is well-endowed) in her cabinet. High-stakes drama ensues. (Guns appear frequently in the series.)
In the promo below, Kelly, in a white suit, appears interspersed throughout old clips, commenting several times, “Oh shit,” as tension builds, and finally singing pointedly, “When is this shit gonna end?” According to Kelly, probably never: He’s got “a hundred chapters to come” for eagerly awaiting fans.