Trapped in the Closet’s Return Proves R. Kelly Is Piss Outta Material


Jesus H. Christ, R. Kelly!

After five long years, the Pied Piper of r&b finally debuted a batch of new chapters in his usually scandalous, occasionally histrionic, often times ridiculous (and possibly Broadway bound) hip-hopera Trapped in the Closet on Friday night. Airing in one, big clump over on IFC, chapters 23 through 33 are over 40 minutes of R. Kelly once again reminding us that, when it comes to serial storytelling, the man is about as focused as a 8-year-old kid hopped up on Monster energy drinks and chocolate-covered coffee beans.

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Warning: The following contains spoilers.

When we last left the story, in Chapter 22, all the characters were frantically calling each other on their phones, concerned over a rumor that Rufus, the married pastor who had an affair with a man, may have contracted something known as “the package” from now-hospitalized lover Chuck. And considering how stricken with fear and panic everybody was about it, the “package” in question had to be AIDS. Now, here we are five years later, and apparently enough time has passed where all that “package” noise is old news. No one talks about it in the new chapters. The only time it’s brought up is when a TV interviewer asks Rufus if Chuck did have AIDS and was that the “package” that got everyone out of whack. Both Rufus and these new chapters refuse to answer that question.

Rufus isn’t the only one who gets grilled on-camera. Most of the new chapters consist of several characters giving their own sides of the story so far for a TV show, which we can only assume is the talk show Out of the Closet with Larry. So, possibly in another five years or whenever, the next batch of Trapped chapters will have the characters engaging in some chair-throwing, Jerry Springer-style ish.

Kelly gives himself more screen time in these installments, virtually bumping many other characters–Gwendolyn, Bridget, Big Man, the much-discussed Chuck–out of the picture altogether. (Although they all turn up briefly in chapter 23.) He returns as the all-knowing narrator, the Beretta-clasping protagonist Sylvester, the stuttering Pimp Lucius, the tell-all book-hawking Rev. Mosley James Evans and–my favorite–potbellied old man Randolph. He also shows up as two new characters: Dr. William T. Perry, a gray-haired marriage counselor who, in these new chapters’ only instance of genuine drama, aids Rufus and his wife Cathy in repairing their marriage; and Beeno, a sunflower seed-sucking, doo-ragged thug kingpin Sylvester tries (and fails) to do business with in the last couple of chapters.

It’s even more obvious with these chapters that R. Kelly isn’t taking a minute of this seriously. This is basically his chance to play dress-up and see what farcical lengths he can take this ongoing, ghetto opera of his. But you may wish he would at least be sharper and less lazy in the narrative department. Considering how loose ends from previous chapters are nowhere near put to bed and brand-new, seemingly superfluous subplots are brought up out of the blue, you get the sense that Kelly is truly making this all up as he goes along.

Trapped in the Closet may still be a silly, soapy excursion for R. Kelly and his fans, but it’s also a sad reminder that he’s continuing to prove he’s the worst storyteller in the world.

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