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Having rapidly consumed the first season of award-winning British sitcom Chewing Gum (available on Netflix) last week, I wasn’t immediately sure what I had thought of it.
I think I enjoyed it, but it won’t be for everyone. Chewing Gum stars Michaela Coel (also the series’ writer) as Tracey Gordon, a 24-year-old shop assistant living with her mother (Shola Adewusi) and sister (Susan Wokoma) on a London housing estate.
The plot follows Tracey as she ventures outside the confines of her conservative Christian upbringing in search of life experience, and specifically sex.
Rejected by her devoutly religious boyfriend Ronald (John MacMillan) due to her sinful desires, Tracey begins a new relationship with sweet but undeniably chavish struggling poet Connor (Robert Lonsdale), with guidance from her best friend Candice (Danielle Isaie) and Candice’s grandmother Esther (Maggie Steed), and occasional input from Connor’s self-absorbed and shameless mum Mandy (Tanya Franks).
Grotesque and gritty, the show pulls no punches when it comes to sex or gross-out humour.
Tracey’s hopeless ineptitude in the realm of sex is a staple of the show’s jokes, and Cole is a writer and actress who is not afraid to put herself in thoroughly undignified situations.
The first episode begins with a disconcertingly licky fantasy makeout session, and the sex scenes pretty much go downhill from there.
A cast of over-the-top characters and Tracey’s fourth-wall-breaking asides to the viewer give Chewing Gum a kind of absurd comic book feel. It definitely made me laugh, even if some of the laughs were as much out of I-can’t-believe-they- did-that surprise as amusement.
This is not a show for those offended by sex, language, or sex language, but if you enjoy working class British accents and ridiculous, cringe-based humour, Chewing Gum is worth a watch, and at six episodes of about 23 minutes each, it won’t take you long to chew (ha!) through the first season.
I have also been making my way through The Path, which is that show about a religious cult which is definitely not Scientology though.
If you thought it might have been about Scientology, you can stop wondering after the second episode, when one character says to another, ‘‘What group was it, Scientologists?’’.
‘‘No’’, is the unambiguous reply, so that settles that, no lawsuits needed. Set primarily in upstate New York, the plot follows several members and associates of the fictional Meyerist movement, especially member-from-birth Sarah (Michelle Monaghan), her convert husband Eddie (Aaron Paul) and zealous disciple Cal (Hugh Dancy).
The Path examines the roles of spirituality in its characters’ lives, and what they’re prepared to sacrifice for it. It’s good drama. Lightbox currently adds new episodes weekly, with season 2 almost complete. I recommend catching up
- C. Tilley H. Turner