It “makes a great case for the enriching power of queerness to open up paths we never thought we could tread.”
It turns out good television can be like comfort food. Lockdown so far has been a lot of eating out of boredom and staring mindlessly between screens, but each episode of BBC’s new eight-part drama was a home-made meal and I devoured it.
Trigonometry sees London based couple Gemma (played by Thalissa Teixeira) and Kieran (Gary Carr) struggling financially, living in a small flat above the community-oriented café that chef Gemma is trying desperately to get off the ground in the face of neighbourhood gentrification. They decide to take in a lodger. Ray (Ariane Labed) is a thirty-year-old ex-Olympian, forced to retire after an injury and feeling as though she’s wasted her life, she is resentful and keen to move out of her parents’ house. The trio grow close and their palpable chemistry transforms into true intimacy as they embark on an interracial polyamorous relationship in what is perhaps the most healthily rendered depiction of the possibilities of modern love I’ve seen.
This is a show about queerness and polyamory which, in all of its tenderness and specificity, doesn’t fall into any of the same traps as the very few shows already out there (I’m thinking Netflix’s You, Me, Her). The creators of this “very adult romcom”, Effie Woods and Duncan Macmillan have said that, “set in a city that can feel cold and unfriendly, at a time when we’re more divided than ever, this is a show about love”. Their exquisite scripts are transformed by the layers of warmth and care visible in the actors’ performances and the show’s production. From the mouth-wateringly tender scenes of Gemma cooking to every sex scene that shows characters fumbling or laughing or both, everything about it is tangible.
It’s not about love in abstract. It’s about class, race, complicated family dynamics, chosen families, grief, friendship, and the importance of bending to and embracing love everywhere you find it without fear of breaking. Trigonometry goes to great lengths to prove that good love is endlessly flexible. Gemma, whose mum died and left her white conservative dad with a “queer angry brown girl”, has already come out twice. First as gay, then as bisexual or queer after meeting Kieran, and she is apprehensive about doing it again. But when the throuple decide to let their loved ones in on their new relationship, in a fascinating 45 minutes of television, their responses prove the value of improvisation. The undeniably brave move that Gemma, Kieran and Ray make in embracing this new dynamic and making it public becomes an opportunity for every other character to reassess the choices that they make and why they’re making them. The fallout, much like the show as a whole, makes a great case for the enriching power of queerness to open up paths we never thought we could tread.
Every episode feels like a feature-length film in quality and in depth. Its pacing is spot on, the performances are balanced and captivating, and so much of it honestly made me hungry. I imagine if this show were food it would be fresh egg pasta, salted butter on a warm slice of toast, or a steaming vegetable curry. It is rich and full of heart and it is so so good for you. I didn’t know I could be made to cry so much watching a child explain to me the difference between equilateral and isosceles triangles, but I did and I would really like to talk about it. If you make only one good decision this week then it better be heading over to iPlayer to watch this. I promise you it is an act of self-care.
Featured Image Source: BBC Two