Last night saw the E4 premiere of a comedy series that promises to shake anything you have known about the thin line between godliness and human desire. I kid you not, Chewing Gum – Tuesdays on E4 at 10pm – is a funny, filthy, smart, bold and outlandish series with a lead actress that is set to become a UK household name.
Written and led by poet, singer-songwriter, screenwriter, playwright and award winning actress Michaela Coel, the series has a little more reason to be celebrated especially in October – Coel is black.
The 25-year-old Londoner takes you into the life of Tracey Gordon, a version of herself discovering sex, friendship and the meaning of life on her council estate. Tracey has not been taught anything about the facts of life by her strictly religious mother. She is 24, a virgin and working in a corner shop. Tracey doesn’t even know what a threesome is. What’s more, if she ever does start getting sexually aroused, her nose starts bleeding.
The six-part comedy series started its life as a one-woman play, performed at Hackney Wick’s Yard Theatre then transferred to the National, Manchester’s Royal Exchange and Holland’s National Theatre. In Chewing Gum Dreams, Coel played 14-year-old Tracey and all the other characters on her London estate. The title referred to aspirations left splattered like discarded gum. Her influences range from Keats, Nina Simone and Tina Fey to Courttia Newland.
“He wrote novels about black working-class London at the time So Solid Crew were popping up, and it seemed to me the only literature that was echoing the life I was living”, Coel recently said.
Chewing Gum is beautifully written; its dialogue eccentric and thoroughly believable. This is modern, working-class city life – a world where skin colour is invisible for some [Tracey’s best friend is mixed race and her sisters are white, but it is never discussed] and prevalent for others; a world of absent fathers and dominant mothers.
Make sure you watch it next Tuesday on e4 at 10pm.