One of the smartest things streaming services have done is to supplement their growing library of original shows by licensing foreign imports. Each service has its own gems, but we're particularly partial to Chewing Gum, a fiercely original coming-of-age comedy.
The show is created and written by and stars Michaela Cole, who based the show on her semiautobiographical play Chewing Gum Dreams. Cole's own particular comedic rhythms, as well as the way the show uses camera work and editing, bolster the singularity of her voice.
Cole plays Tracey, 24, who was raised ultrareligious and lives in a London housing estate (a.k.a. the projects). Her main goal: lose her virginity. This is not for the faint of heart, Chewing Gum can be quite filthy. But that filth is used to good effect. This isn't sex for sex's sake, it's sex for comedy's sake, which is rare when it's done as well as it's done here.
While Tracey isn't Cole and Cole isn't Tracey, there's still a nuance to the way Tracey's economic status is portrayed that we don't often get to see on TV, especially as the characters we often see don't ever seem to worry about their bank accounts as much as the rest of us do. These characters aren't pandered to, they're not to be pitied, they're just people who happen to not have a lot of money.
The real treat of Chewing Gum - the second season just hit Netflix - is Cole herself, whose demeanor, humor, and fabulous, expressive face make the show what it is.
- Molly Eichel
Where to stream: Netflix.