Chewing Gum’s Michaela Coel on the Massive Success of Season 1 and How It Was Originally a Dark Comedy

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Thanks to Netflix, Americans have finally discovered the boldly funny series Chewing Gum. The British show centers on a sheltered 24-year-old virgin looking to finally have sex and learn more about the world around her. With season two already airing in the U.K., creator, writer and star Michaela Coel spoke to Channel 4 about how the show’s massive success has changed her life.

“Maybe I can’t always go everywhere that I wanted to go,” she said. “If I go into a café, it might be a different experience than it would have been a year-and-a-half ago. It means that I work more, and I don’t have as much time for friends as I used to. But those are the only two things I can think of that have changed.”

And with season one currently streaming on Netflix, the show is being watch by more people than ever. Thankfully, her new fans have showered her with compliments but that doesn’t mean it isn’t overwhelming. “In the beginning, when it first went out on Netflix, I was able to keep up with tweets, and I received tweets in all different languages, saying really positive things about the show, and the fact that there was a weird, quirky person that girls can identify with,” she added. “But now it has gone so big that I can’t actually keep track of anything on Twitter anymore. But I recognize that that is a good thing.”

One of my favorite things about the show is that it exposes me to a part of London I haven’t really seen before. It takes place in what’s referred to as a council estate, a series of apartments for the impoverished. With the struggles of underprivileged people portrayed in a more dramatic light, it’s not surprising that the show was originally inteded to be a dark comedy.

Coel continued: “As a writer, you write to the spec, and that was the spec–it was a pretty broad spec, it was just ‘Please, not too much sadness.’ And I’m quite glad that that’s the route I went down. But the play which the series is very loosely based on, was a very dark comedy, it went to quite dark places, and I took those out for the TV show.”

However, that doesn’t mean it’s something to be ignored. “I still hope people look at Tracey’s life and occasionally think ‘Wow, she’s quite poor!’ or ‘Wow, she’s probably a little bit fucked, isn’t she?’ But it’s not something that I really need to hammer home. Just by seeing the estate–and in the second series, we’re going to go into some characters’ rooms that you’ve never seen before–and if you look at the way it’s been designed, there’s a lot of things I don’t need to say.”

It’s unclear when the second season will reach the U.S., but I hope it’s very soon.

(via E4, image via screencap)

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