The tragic "modern love story" that's re-examined in the trailer for Jordan Peele's true crime doc Lorena is one you've probably heard before. After all, millions of Americans were either glued to Court TV or engrossed in the salacious 1993 headlines when Lorena Bobbitt severed her husband John's penis with a knife. Even so, the preview for the upcoming four-part Amazon Original Series (available to stream via Prime Video on Feb. 15) contends that you may know the scandal, but "the story, you don't." And this time, it's Lorena's turn to take back the narrative.
What Lorena will seemingly focus on is a sort of discourse surrounding physical and sexual domestic abuse. For anyone who needs a refresher: Lorena alleged in court testimony that her husband had raped and physically assaulted her, but a jury later acquitted John of rape charges. A jury also found Lorena not guilty of all criminal charges on grounds of temporary insanity. Doctors were able to surgically re-attach John Wayne Bobbitt's penis, according to ABC News.
As seen in the clips from the newly-released sneak peek, viewers will finally get answers to all their burning questions about the scandal, hearing from both John and Lorena Bobbitt in the present day. Of course, the one thing most people have wondered from the beginning is why Lorena cut off her sleeping husband's penis. "She wanted me to hurt," John explains in the documentary. "That's why she did that."
Based on the Lorena preview, however, it seems that it may be a bit more complicated than that. Interspersed throughout the video are myriad clips of the highly sensationalized '90s television coverage of the incident and the ensuing trial. One news anchor dubbed Lorena a "jealous wife," while another newspaper headline referred to her as a "Hot-Blooded Latina." Viewers also see copies of interview requests from Oprah Winfrey, Jenny Jones, and Larry King, as well as John posing with both David Hasselhoff and with fans of the Severed Parts band he later formed. "We were being entertained on the fodder of someone else's suffering," one woman recalls in the trailer.
Several of Lorena's friends also appear in interviews, describing the native Ecuadorian's alleged nightmare. "She was way too scared to leave him," says one person in the trailer. Adds another, "She said 'my husband says if I leave him, he will kill me.'"
John has most recently spoken out in a new interview for 20/20's "The Bobbitts: Love Hurts" special on Jan. 4, but, in this docuseries, Lorena is the one who's telling her side of the story. "I didn't choose to be in the spotlight," says Lorena, who last saw her ex husband when they reunited on The Insider in 2009. "But there's no going back."
And it was a story executive producer Peele felt needed to be re-told. “When we hear the name ‘Bobbitt’ we think of one of the most sensational incidents to ever be catapulted into a full-blown media spectacle,” Peele, who won a Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for 2017's Get Out, told Variety. “With this project, Lorena has a platform to tell her truth as well as engage in a critical conversation about gender dynamics, abuse, and her demand for justice. This is Lorena’s story and we’re honored to help her tell it.”
Heather Schuster, head of unscripted for Amazon Originals, thinks Peele struck the right balance, too. “Jordan has proven himself as a captivating voice of social critique and we are excited to work with him on this project,” Schuster said in a statement via Variety. “‘Lorena’ reframes Lorena Bobbitt’s story around issues of sexism and domestic abuse and offers Prime members an exclusive new view into how America got her story wrong and maybe continues to get it wrong.”
While he's already mastered fiction, Peele's true crime foray with Lorena shows that he can always find a way to enlighten viewers.
If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or visit hotline.rainn.org.