By Stephanie Farrier
Published: May 10th, 2017
Twenty-four-year-old Tracey Gordon (Michaela Cole) returns to Pensbourne Estate newly single, basically homeless, and still a virgin. Mum won’t let her back in the house until she can prove she’s “returned to Jesus” by completing a series of brow-raising tasks. Now, I think any normal parent might’ve added on an extra set of chores, maybe an apology letter or two, heck, even some volunteer work in more extreme cases. But then again, there’s nothing quite normal about Tracey’s life at all.
The conditions include passing out 1,000 flyers for the church, healing the sick, and speaking in tongues. Geez Pastor Joy (Shola Adewusi), whatever happened to the Bible’s example of welcoming home the prodigal son, er, daughter, with a fattened calf and a party? (I guess she missed that chapter.) The trend of the overbearing, overly-religious Christian is a stance on the faith often taken in the media; I wonder whether it’s a stereotype or a general feeling towards followers of Christ? In fact, it’s pretty obvious that Joy is more concerned with building a buzz for her church, conveniently named “Church of Joy,” than she is with spreading the Gospel of Jesus and setting a good example for her daughters. Her self-righteous, condemning ways play a large part in Tracey’s rebellion.
Desperate for somewhere to live, and jealous of ex-boyfriend Connor (Robert Lonsdale) and his new beau, Tracey attempts to replace him with a man named Ash who says he’s “never been with a black woman,” until his ex-wife and kids show up mid-tribal dance (it gets weirder), and Tracey finds out that Ash does this sort of thing often. Clearly, Tracey’s obsession with losing her virginity affects her ability to make sound judgments. She also hints at having daddy issues, as she describes her taste for “waste-men” (the U.K.’s politer term for a “fuck boy”) and soon finds herself in a sex club hoping to get a little action.
Tracey’s journey toward self-discovery strikes me as ironic because she seeks liberation by breaking away from her mother’s idea of what a Christian woman should be, and instead becomes confined to society’s idea which defines a woman’s worth by a man’s sexual interest in her. After a moment of honesty with Mama Joy about where she’d been during her time away from the neighborhood, Joy lets her move back home but still prods her to speak in tongues as a way to seal the deal.
With a roof over her head again, Tracey can finally get back to her main focus of losing her virginity, which she accomplishes with a buff, older-looking 16-year-old from her book club—who doesn’t tell her his age until after the fact. She’s so distraught that she turns herself over to the police only to find out that consensual sex with a 16-year-old is legal. The season ends with Tracey making a heart-felt speech acknowledging for the first time that there are other, more important things in life than losing one’s virginity, like family and camaraderie.
This shows that the instant gratification we seek in the moment can appear to be of dire need, but often proves to be unsatisfying once acquired; maybe it’s because, like Tracey, we lose so much of ourselves in the process. The absurdity and humor of the writing and acting style desensitize us to the seriousness of her blunders and the underlying themes in society which portray virginity as something to be thrown away for the sake of bragging rights. So, to that end, do I think I’ll watch Season 3? I don’t know; I’m still chewing it over.