Chewing Gum (E4, Netflix)

TITLE: Chewing Gum
GENRE: Comedy
STARRING: Michaela Coel (star/writer), Susie Wokoma, Kadiff Kirwan
NETWORK/COUNTRY: UK
YEAR: 2015
RATING: 5 out of 5 hairbrushes upside your head
WHERE CAN I SEE IT? E4 on demand in the U.K. and Netflix in the U.S.

When I moved to London in 2003 with a head full of stereotypes about the city and its people, I first tried to find a place to live in Brixton. Brixton is a neighborhood that, back then, was where a lot of Afro-Caribbeans lived. Migrating in the early 1950s as Commonwealth citizens to help rebuild Britain after Hitler bombed the shit out of it, Brixton became known as a hub of Black British life. And also riots. There were massive riots in the 1980s. So, of course, THAT IS WHERE I WANTED TO LIVE.

Alas, the rooms and small apartments I went to look at were, IMO, CRAY. The ones where I would be a “lodger” with older Afro-Caribbean women and men were dark, with lots of heavy drapery and too much white Jesus imagery for my taste. Granted, I looked at 3-4 places so I won’t generalize to the entire populace of Afro-Caribbean landlords. But studying  the evolution of Black British culture and getting to know young, Black British women made the places I looked at, and my introduction to Chewing Gum, all the more hilarious and comprehensible.


Chewing Gum is based on a stage play that Michaela Coel wrote and she brings her character Tracey to fidgety life for the TV show. She works in a corner shop part-time and most of the show takes place in her neighborhood for a fun look at Council Estate life without the hyperbole of what that life is like. Because regardless of the exterior, Tracey is fully obsessed with sex: having sex for the first time (at 24), enjoying sex and being sexy. Yet, she’s incredibly, but adorably awkward in her pursuit. She lives with her very religious mother and her sister (Susie Wokoma, star of Crazyheads and featured in Crashing), so Tracey’s randiness is constantly under surveillance and reprimand. This is especially the case with her boyfriend with whom she shares a chaste relationship, but she’s always trying to mount him like a pony.

What makes Coel’s depiction of Tracey both hilarious and forward-thinking is its opposition to stereotypes about black American women’s sexuality.

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TV Review: The Family (ABC), Thirteen (BBC One/BBC America) and The Missing (BBC One)

TITLE: The FamilyThirteenThe Missing

GENRE: Thriller, Family Drama

STARRING: The Family – Joan Allen, that one chick from The Newsroom with the weird face; Thirteen – Aneurin Barnard is someone you will want to know because he and his dark curls were dreamy; The Missing – David Morrissey’s Walking Dead pedigree tricked me into watching this and now I’m mad because it was boring af.

NETWORK / COUNTRY: The Family – ABC / USA), Thirteen – BBC One, BBC America / UK, The Missing – BBC One / UK

YEAR: 2016

RATING: The Family – a reserved 4 out of 5 missing kid flyers, Thirteen – five out of five, The Missing – 2 sleepy eyes trying to stay open to watch it.

WHERE CAN I SEE IT? The Missing is still boring the knickers off folks on BBC iPlayer at this writing, Thirteen is on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and something called Vudu. The Family is available on iTunes, Google Play, and Playstation.


Okay, so this is a weird bit of televisual group-think for a TV show premise: what if a missing kid CAME BACK after several years? Three production companies sold this idea to networks, two in the U.K. and one in the states (so far).

Sometimes people with kids tell me they can’t watch stories in which kids are in danger and in peril. I totally get that. Sometimes I can’t either and I don’t have kids. But what if they kid comes back? Joy! Jubilation! Not.So.Fast say these three shows.

Continue reading “TV Review: The Family (ABC), Thirteen (BBC One/BBC America) and The Missing (BBC One)”

Crazyhead (E4)

TITLE: Crazyhead

GENRE: comedy-horror

STARRING: Susie Wokoma, Cara Thebold, Rianne Steele, and Tony Curran

PRODUCTION COMPANY/COUNTRY: E4/UK

YEAR: 2016

RATING: 6 out of 10 blood-soaked stabby things

BEST QUOTE: I’m coming! I swear to God, sometimes I feel like just fucking off to the Seychelles and just forgetting this entire thing! Right, come on, you, twinkle toes. – Callum, head demon and also Raquel’s therapist…and Amy’s

WHERE CAN I SEE IT?: On demand on E4 in England; on Netflix in the US starting 16 December 2016.

Show creator Howard Overman did Misfits. I LOVED and highly recommend Misfits (on Hulu) so it was easy to fall into watching Crazyhead.

Our Crazyheads are Raquel and Amy. They are also misfits in that they, at different times, thought they were mentality ill. But it turns out they actually are seeing demons. And since they’re both seers, it’s up to them to sort out the baddies. Oh yeah: and save the world. Raquel is weird and she knows it: quick with the inappropriate but often too true sexual observation. Amy, on the other hand, seems well-uptight. But once she realizes she’s seeing reality for what it really is, she’s got depths of fight in her that she and Raquel will need to fight all and sundry evil-bringers.

If you like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, of the two new British shows trying to claim the Slayer’s crown, I’d say go with Crazyhead over BBC One’s Class. It’s refreshing to see at least one young woman, Raquel, who isn’t a bobblehead doll actually looking like she could kick a demon’s ass when pressed into service for humanity. About five episodes in I finally thought, “Dear god, how many flights of stairs has Raquel had to take at a flat out run?” A lot. But it’s worth every but of exertion.

And Crazyhead only had six episodes so you can totally fight your “get out and do something” demons in favor of this binge-watch.