We all love television for various reasons – some because of the good writing, others for the production values or for the characters that are depicted. Chewing Gum, however, is the gem that sneaks up on you, the one that you never think to watch until you do, and then you are hooked and wonder why it took you so long to watch it in the first place.
Michaela Coel is one the best comedic actresses around and her brainchild, Chewing Gum, is inspired by her play, Chewing Gum Dreams. The sitcom is written by and stars Coel; the show is a vehicle on its own, but it displays in full view the great reach of Coel’s talent. One only needs to watch a clip to see her immense skill and have about ten quotable lines to repeat at your next dinner party.
Chewing Gum is a British sitcom set in London and follows Tracey Gordon (Coel), a 24-year-old shop assistant who lives with her restrictive and religious mother (Shola Adewusi) and sister (Susan Wokoma) in the Towers Hamlets housing complex. When we meet her, Tracey is trying to lose her virginity to her disciplined boyfriend, Ronald (John Macmillan), with the help of her best friend, Candice (Danielle Waters).
Why You Should Watch
It is very difficult to explain Michaela Coel’s incredible talent without seeing it for yourself. Her face is so expressive that you feel sad, happy, and embarrassed with her. In only twelve episodes, you feel almost as if Tracey is your friend, or a member of your family and you become so engrossed in her life and the lives of the rest of her neighbors in Towers Hamlets.
The story is unique and unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It tells a story similar to Coel’s upbringing and represents a multiracial, lower class London that is not often seen. The tone of the show also does not depict the characters in a condescending light, it is simply as they are and how they find joy in the space that they are in. This is no Cinderella story, this is a story of appreciation of a community which is akin to communities many people in the world live in, but one which is very rarely represented onscreen.
The humor is specifically worth noting. The seamless movement between excellent comedic writing, perfect line delivery, and physical comedy is truly what makes this a stand out comedy show. You will laugh out loud, you will chuckle to yourself, and you will be quoting it the next day at work.
Chewing Gum first aired in 2015 on E4 in Britain and debuted on Netflix internationally in October 2016. There are two six-episode seasons available now to stream. Unfortunately, Coel recently announced that she will not be making a third season. But I dare you to watch the first episode, find yourself hooked, and then binge-watch it until you are done with both incredible seasons.