'Trinkets' review: Netflix's story of odd friendships amidst shoplifters struggling to face reality is not your average romcom
The new show proves to be a breath of fresh air not only because of its premise but also for the narrative it opts for as the 10-episode story progresses.
This contains spoilers for season 1 of 'Trinkets'.
Netflix has made quite the name for itself for churning out catchy, quirky romcoms one after the other, some times a bit too relentlessly too. The streaming giant turned production network has dabbled in the genre in terms of both films and series and has delivered with plenty of hits like '13 Reasons Why', 'Sex Education', and an equal number of misses like the disastrous 'Insatiable'.
Joining the league of the networks romcom series this summer is 'Trinkets' and even though the genre of teenage young adult romcoms might seem a bit too done and dusted, the new show proves to be a breath of fresh air not only because of its premise but also for the narrative it opts for as the 10-episode story progresses.
Think 'Confessions of a Shopaholic', but instead of an addicted buyer, the protagonist (and her close-knit friends) want to own what their eye catches without having to pay for them, aka kleptomaniacs. The story is told from the point of view of one introverted, and closeted queer Elodie Davis - a grieving teenager who gets relocated to live with her father and his new family in Portland, in the wake of her mother's death. It's a classic tale of the odd new girl struggling to fit in as other mean girls try to show her her place in the school hierarchy, but what sets 'Trinkets' apart is the extracurricular activities Elodie engages in to keep her sanity intact.
It is based on the young adult novel by Kirsten "Kiwi" Smith, who serves as executive producer for the show. 'Trinkets', the series, comes from Amy Andelson and Smith. Elodie - played by Brianna Hildebrand - is a shopaholic, and she isn't the only one. While the popular girls from school might be trying to put her town, they also end up going to the same Shoplifters Anonymous meetings that Elodie - our klepto protagonist - has to attend. Elodie finds two of her classmates, Moe (Kiana Madeira) and Tabitha (Quintessa Swindell), at the meeting, and thus sparks off an unlikely friendship between the three as they find common grounds beyond their shopping instincts.
Through the relatively simple plot, Netflix, however, manages to achieve this remarkable feat of telling three different tales about three different realities haunting Elodie and her two friends, while they all try to find their place in the same world. But the best part about the coming-of-age story is in its simplicity since it is not perforated by some latent conscience explaining the twisted intricacies of their actions. In that, there is no psychological justification or analysis of why Elodie, Moe, and Tabitha choose to shoplift. Like eating or sleeping, it comes to them as just another bodily function they don't see it as morally wrong, but find it absolutely indispensable.
There is however no godmoding when it comes to the flawed teenagers trying to own what they like. These girls are crafty and skilled with years of experience in the activity - something that has provided them the expertise to execute something as menial as shoplifting, artistically, and articulately. But that doesn't mean they carry out a heist or reach momentous heights by making that a profession, as they do get caught. The teenage rebels assuming they can soar freely and own whatever they want are grounded and humanized as they get busted and sent to behavioral meetings.
That, and of course, the multidirectional storytelling. All through its first season, 'Trinkets' doesn't prioritize Elodie's story as the torchbearer of the plot. Elodie's presence is very much there, and the narration is also actively from her viewpoint, but it is the way in which Moe and Tabitha's backstories and plot in the show progress that ends up becoming a highlight of the show. Moe isn't well off but has a hard time being accepted as the science nerd she is. Tabitha is parented by an 'Instagram famous' mother and her love life with a boy from her elite social status doesn't seem to be heading towards anything positive either. And we see all of their hurdles and struggles, other than their shoplifting problem, panning out on the show just as elaborately as Elodie's does.
Speaking of Elodie, it was breathtaking to see Hildebrand act as a regular teenager. In 'Trinkets' she is just a teen rebel, unlike her 'Deadpool' character, the Negasonic Warhead, nor she is being subjected to the threats of being possessed like her character in 'The Exorcist'. But even though she plays a regular teen in a regular world out to get her, she stands out as an exemplary performer because of the nuanced portrayal of a young adult lacking the same confidence that those around her can't stop exuding. Hildebrand, Madeira, and Swindell work as a team so well, that despite their characters having vivid contrasting life struggles, they just seem to blend in when they find a safe space where they are understood.
At its core, Netflix's 'Trinkets' is a wonderful story about growing teens finding themselves and each other amidst behavior that the society doesn't approve of. It's unique in a way where the protagonist enters a new world not just as a proxy for the viewer. Neither is she the stereotypical closeted queer who gets her coming-out-same-sex-happy-ending kiss as the season culminates. But while her journey is relatable, she also has her specific defining aspects - like the way she meanders through grief and loss. What helps 'Trinkets' stand apart is that it never glorifies shoplifting, or romanticizes the state of being a kleptomaniac, instead, it understands them and shows there's always hope for people like Elodie, Moe, and Tabitha. It's a story about friendship sprinkled with harsh dosages of reality and the comforting embrace of compassion. Finally, a teenage romcom series well-seasoned and exceptionally done.
'Trinkets' premieres on Friday, June 14, only on Netflix.