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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Chewing Gum is a series about a 20-something English girl from a pious Christian family who's hunting for sex (and love). The writing is fresh and sparkling, the acting sublime, and strong women and people of color are at the center of the action. However, the heavy sexual content may be too much for younger viewers, with frequent, very graphic conversations about various types of sex and sex acts, as well as kissing, grinding, moaning (no private parts are visible); the effect is generally comic instead of erotic. Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," "hell," "ass," and vulgar words for sex and body parts including "dick," "p---y," "bang," and the like. Expect occasional sudden jarring violence: A character is hit by a car at an ironic moment. Young adults at a party drink hedonistically, pouring liquor into each other's mouths on the dance floor.
What's the story?
Created and written by its star Michaela Coel, CHEWING GUM is a loosely autobiographical take on growing up in a Pentecostal Christian Ghanaian family in London public housing. Tracey Gordon is 24 and totally clueless. She hasn't traveled, she still lives with her sister and mom, and, thanks to having spent the last six years in an ultra-chaste relationship with the ultra-Christian Ronald, she's still a virgin who's barely even been kissed. But after hooking up with her handsome neighbor Connor (Robert Lonsdale) at a party thrown by her hedonistic best friend Candice (Danielle Isaie), Tracey finally sees some romance -- and some sex! -- in her future. Now if only she can make it happen without her easily shocked mom Joy (Shola Adewusi) and younger sister Cynthia (Susan Wokoma) finding out.
Is it any good?
A star is born in this delightfully quirky comedy about a horny, hapless young woman who comes from British public housing and a particularly religious family. She's not exactly sure what she's looking for, but she knows it's something else because of the panic she feels when she asks her sister Cynthia, "What do you want from life?" and the response is, "Nothing, other than this. I see us sitting around the table like every other day except we're really old." Ricocheting away from this vision of the future, Tracey variously tries to seduce her (gay) boyfriend, land a new job at a fancy perfume shop so she can afford Beyoncé extensions, and learn how to beguile strangers over the internet in search of something new.
Coel's comic instinct is killer -- her fourth-wall-breaking asides to the camera about her grand schemes and musings are priceless -- and her writing is as fresh as it comes. Warning her big sister not to attend a party at Candice's place, Cynthia warns "the devils will be prowling round her flat like a lion on a low-carb diet." Other shows have offered similar awkward laughter, but the sharp writing, underlying sweetness, and Coel's unique radiance makes Chewing Gum something truly special.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the ways that Chewing Gum is different from a TV show that might air on a standard network. What is shown or allowed that might not be allowed on TV?
Michaela Coel, who plays Tracey Gordon, created and wrote this series. Does that surprise you? Can you think of other shows that are written and created by their star?
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