The show’s addictively energetic pace—which fuses ping-pong dialogue with the beyond-cringeworthy slapstick that ensues when an East London girl enters the world with absurdly high expectations and the naïveté of a religious upbringing—made the six-episode series a sleeper hit with viewers and critics alike when it popped up on Netflix internationally in 2016.
But if you ask Coel, she’ll tell you the show’s high velocity wasn’t necessarily intentional.“I over-write! Her scripts, which should run about 24 pages (the industry standard is one page per minute), have gotten as long as 34.
It made the editing process agonizing, but the team adapted.
Rebecca Bunch, the shameless (and regrettably still-virginal) chatterbox Tracey Gordon narrates her working-class life through the fourth wall as she bounces along, from abandoning her family’s Pentecostal beliefs to navigating a weirdo relationship with a weirdo white boyfriend, to seeking a career beyond her mini-mart job.
In addition to the myriad micro-aggressions of everyday existence, Coel has described her own history with religious evangelism at length, including leaving it—and the loved ones she converted along the way, including her ex-boyfriend and Ghanaian mother.
Season two still took a bit longer than her producers would have preferred — “I was like, ‘What can I do? The guarantee of a Netflix release, coupled with the fact that a six-episode season flies by in under three hours, meant she didn’t have to worry about holding a streaming audience’s attention.
’ I write the show by myself; I don't have a team of people to bounce ideas off.” But when she finally returned, it was without protest. Suddenly, she was safe to experiment with the show’s structure.
BFF Candice is not speaking to her, she’s not welcome at home until she can prove she’s right with the Lord, and Connor is now seeing a white woman Tracey likens to a hyena.
The show takes her “back to the dark places” Coel had to cut from season one, including a fancy sex party (with her cousin), a humiliating encounter with racist fetishes, and a dog-sitting adventure that gets real weird, real quick.
That's fucked up.’”That unruly and fucked-up dog is, to her, the best work she’s ever done. She’s just coming into her own with it, and seems to be enjoying riding the wave as it comes.“For the first time in my life, I was papped [followed by the paparazzi] yesterday. It was the most bizarre thing,” she says in disbelief, her cockney lilt crackling.
“The day [the first episode] aired [in the UK] I didn't feel any massive fear,” she says, shrugging. “Yesterday—I was outside [a bar], having a chat, and this guy jumped out of a car.
It's way different from London,” she explains. You don't go tipping over into anybody else's department.
But people here are like, ‘I'm gonna fucking call this person, cut out the middle-man, because we've got to [get it done].’ The first day I came here, I was like, ‘This is like an episode of , since that’s the other thing you might remember Coel from.
(Luckily, they also organically clicked.) season two hit Netflix, in the U. “This is the easy day, the day where it's just: chat to people, put on some clothes, boom! "She’s got a free hoodie, too: a blonde Netflix employee dropped by earlier to offer Coel the official swag, along with a few starstruck compliments, a selfie request, and an assurance that should she want anymore Netflix stuff, to just ask.