One way I know LGBTQ+ representation has improved since I first started writing about TV is that this extremely queer little show was on Netflix for three entire months and I had no idea. I was just clicking around on Netflix, and had been procrastinating like the professional I am, and was recommended this show under one of the categories Netflix so kindly makes for me. And I confuse my poor Netflix so much. It’s always like, “Do you want a violent and horrific horror movie or a fun-loving Canadian comedy? An animated series technically intended for children or a show about serial killers?” But I think it knows it can always get me with “LGBT Teen Drama.”
So clearly I was intrigued, and even more so when I realized it starred Negosonic Teenage Warhead herself, Brianna Hildebrand, who not only plays the queer lead character in this show, but is also queer in real life. And the two people who share the spotlight with her in the movie are played by Quintessa Swindell, a non-binary actor who has been gracious and open about their journey of discovering who they are and how they identify, and Kiana Madeira, who I am convinced is queer based on her credits alone. I personally recognized her from Barbelle and The Flash, where she played queer both times, plus she was in Wynonna Earp, AND she’ll be playing gay AGAIN in the upcoming Fear Street movie trilogy, and even though I went as far back through her Twitter as my sensibilities would allow (aka through June) and she’s been dating her current boyfriend for the entirety of Instagram and don’t have any PROOF that she’s queer, I feel confident in declaring she’s at LEAST a very big fan of us, as a people.
Trinkets, at its core, is about three teenage girls who become an unlikely trio. There’s Tabitha (Swindell), the popular girl with the popular boyfriend who seems to have it all figured out but isn’t quite as shiny or cold as she makes herself out to be. And Moe (Madeira), the girl who seems at a glance to be the truant stoner girl but in reality is a genius who probably wasn’t challenged enough to feel like she had to apply herself. And then there’s Elodie (Hildebrand), our entrance into their universe, the quiet, shy new girl in town who is dealing with the trauma that uprooted her life and trying to figure out how she fits into this new world. The three girls meet at court-mandated Shoplifter’s Anonymous (lead by ALEX MACK y’all), and despite resistance at the get-go, forge an unlikely friendship and an unbreakable bond.
Elodie is our resident gay gal, and she is hilariously and adorably awkward when it comes to flirting. The first time a girl kisses her, Elodie shakes her hand and thanks her. It’s very relatable on a visceral level, and I love that Elodie’s queer journey isn’t about figuring out she likes girls — she comes to us fully realized in that way — but what to do about it. Elodie eventually meets and becomes enamored with a definitely toxic but undeniably magnetic singer named Sabine, played by queer actress/musician Kat Cunning.
What I love most about the show, besides the abounding queerness of it all, is that when it comes down to it, the emotional relationship at the crux is between the three girls. Shoplifting Anonymous brings them together, but what bonds them is realizing that they’ve all been Through Some Shit, and they’re all more than their peers see at a glance. It gets intense quickly, as teen friendships often do, but they never fight over petty things (just petty theft). They fight about lies or they lash out because they’re hurt. One of my favorite little tiffs of theirs ends with, “Are you mad?” and they make up before they leave the conversation. I could tell before I looked up the writing credits on this show that there had to be mostly women in the writer’s room. (And, as it turns out, I was right — all but one of the episodes were written by women. All but two were directed by women as well.) I can’t put my finger on exactly what it was, except that the friendship felt… deep in a way real friendships feel to me.
They are girls who grew up too fast and don’t really have solid adult role models in their lives so they bond together and encourage each other — for better or worse. For better, they encourage each other to stand up for themselves and forge their own paths. For worse, they make a lot of really bad decisions, left to their own devices. (Crime! Drugs! Dating men that are so old it’s statutory! Just as some examples.) None of those decisions are without consequences, but I think it walks the line of “ah yes, I too made bad decisions in my youth,” and “ah yes, the exaggeration of a teen drama” well. It balances the real and the surreal, keeping things relatable yet exciting. It’s friendship and teen drama at its best and worst, and I found it to be a very entertaining ride.
Season One of Trinkets is on Netflix now, and is very binge-able at ten 30-minute episodes. The second and final season will come to us in 2020!