Tuesday, May 02, 2017

TV Tuesday: Chewing Gum

I first heard of the Netflix show Chewing Gum (originally a British channel 4 show) on one of my favorite podcasts, Pop Culture Happy Hour. The hosts there (who I often agree with) all seemed to like the show, so I decided to give it a try. At first, I thought it was pretty weird, but it has definitely grown on me, and I am hooked now. I sat down at lunchtime today to watch one episode and ended up watching three of them!

Chewing Gum is a quirky British comedy about a young woman who is naive but who craves some sexual experience. Tracey, played by Michaela Coel, has grown up in a small apartment in London in what I gather is the British equivalent of housing projects here in the US. Tracey is in her mid-20's but still lives at home with her mother, Joy (played by Shola Adewusi), and her sister, Cynthia (played by Susan Wokoma), who are both extremely religious. As a result, she has been seriously sheltered and has little life experience. Tracey's best friend, Candice, played by Danielle Walters, is far more worldly, with a serious (and hunky) boyfriend, though she still lives with her Nan in the projects, too.

At the start of season one, Tracey is determined to finally have sex and lose her virginity - she is more than a little obsessed with this mission! Her straight-laced boyfriend, Ronald, though, is just as religious as Tracey's family and seems immune to Tracey's increasingly aggressive advances. You can tell right away that this relationship isn't going to last long, and sure enough, Tracey is soon dating a white boy from the projects named Connor (though she doesn't dare tell her mother that).

This show is loud, colorful, and outrageous...and a whole lot of fun. Did I mention that it's quirky? Michaela Coel is wonderfully exuberant as Tracey (she also writes the show and created it and says it is semi-autobiographical). Tracey is very childlike, dressing in bright primary colors and wearing her hair in two long braids, and innocent, though she desperately wants to be a sophisticated, worldly woman. She is also incredibly endearing and lovable, and I was rooting for her right from the start.

This show is definitely not for everyone. It is quite crude and very open about sex, though Tracey's attempts to have sex are often more silly than sexy. The show is filmed in a unique way, with Tracey often speaking directly to the audience. It's very, very funny, but it also gives an inside view of what it is like to live in a housing project and tackles topics related to race and religion very frankly. Like I said, I am totally hooked now, in season 2, and can't wait to see what happens next.

Chewing Gum was originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK and is available now on Netflix.


  1. I love British shows! One that I got hooked on was "The IT Crowd" and another was the "Great British Baking Show"

    1. I've heard a LOT about the Great British Bake-Off - the Pop Culture Happy Hour crew adores that one, too! Will have to try The It Crowd - thanks for the tip!