“In ‘Chewing Gum,’ Tracey Is The Quirkiest And Freest Character On TV” (Code Switch/NPR)
In this piece, I wrote about why the character of Tracey Gordon in the international hit comedy ‘Chewing Gum’ resonated with so many people, despite how absurd her life, and her actions appeared to be.
Tracey Gordon, the protagonist in the Netflix hit show, Chewing Gum — a British comedy about a 20-something Christian woman on a quest to lose her virginity and find herself — is weird. The fact is, if I knew her in real life, she’d probably irritate me a lot. And yet, I love her.
I don’t just love her because we’re both British-born Africans. Or that, like her, I lived in public housing for part of my childhood, or that we both have dirty laughs. I love her because she, mostly, succeeds in breaking free from what society and her faith have told her she should be and how she should act.
Like all of us, Tracey wants to be loved and validated. Society has told her that as a Black, working-class woman, her job and love prospects are limited, because she is neither intelligent nor attractive enough (neither of which are actually true). She has the added burden of having to impress God. “This religious fervor” as Priscilla Owusu, a London-based writer and co-host of the podcast “This Christian Life” points out, “leaves little room for you to make choices for yourself, because you’re constantly being told what you should do.” Owusu, who is of Ghanaian heritage, says she understands how challenging those restrictions can feel for a young person.