Okay, let’s say you’re scrolling on Netflix and you come across Trinkets. What do you think? “Ugh, another series about spoiled teens. What, am I on the Disney Channel?”, maybe? Well, yes, Trinkets is about teenagers; and yes, they are privileged in that generic American way. But the writing from creator Amy Andelson and her team is smart enough to elevate this series above anything the Disney Channel might serve up.
Andelson doesn’t have a huge resume. Her most notable screenwriting outing before this was on the awful Step Up 3D (2010). But here she has a great idea, and is able to parlay that into some compelling television. The series gets a bit shaggy in the later episodes of the first season (it’s been renewed for a second) when it descends into soap territory. But even that can’t derail it completely.
Elodie Davis (Brianna Hildebrand) has recently moved to Portland, Oregon. Her mother died in a car accident, so she’s moved to live with her dad Doug (Larry Sullivan) and his new family. Unsurprisingly, Eloide has been acting out, which in her case involves shoplifting. She’s pretty good at it too – till she gets caught. Now she has to attend Shoplifters Anonymous meetings. At these meetings, she notices two girls from her new high school – the streetwise Moe (Kiana Madiera) and the wealthy Tabitha (Quintessa Swindell). They haven’t really interacted at school, but their common predicament means the girls slowly begin to bond. Problem is that they bond over shoplifting – the very thing they’re supposed to be kicking.
Trinkets’ shoplifting angle cleverly draws the audience into this world of clashing cultures and personal dramas. But the “hook” in that angle wanes somewhat as the series wears on and it skids a little more deliberately into soap. Tabitha’s relationship with her awful boyfriend Brady (Brandon Butler) provides plenty of angst as well as an opportunity to explore violence against women. That she’s from a wealthy family makes the issue all the more pointed. Moe has a complicated relationship with Noah (Odiseas Georgiadis) and doesn’t quite know where to take it. Elodie is gay and her awkwardness means she has a hard time forming any kind of relationship. But the bond between the three girls helps them navigate these choppy waters.
This is very “now” television. The girls’ misadventures often play out via social media. Technology plays a significant part in their lives. Andelson’s scripts hit on a lot of “hot button” issues affecting contemporary teens. The music is geared to a teen audience. But – as a non-teen – I still felt drawn in by the characters and their predicaments.
Brianna Hildebrand is the most recognisable face in the cast; thanks to her appearance as Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the Deadpool movies. She brings an awkward charm to Elodie that’s very much in keeping with the character’s backstory. Quintessa Swindell has possibly the least interesting character in Tabitha but nonetheless tries to find some nuance in her “princess” character. But Kiana Madiera is a revelation as Moe, giving her character a real edge while still finding her vulnerability. The secondary characters are pretty one-dimensional, though Odiseas Georgiadis has some decent moments as Noah.
Trinkets is an adult series dressed in teens’ clothes. And while I suspect it will have far greater appeal to teens and young adults, Andelson’s sharp observations may entice older viewers to give it a try. So even as the series swirls around its occasionally soapy bathtub, that sharpness is just enough to keep it afloat.
Trinkets is now streaming on Netflix.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- Dead to Me (Netflix) – streaming review
- Maniac – streaming review
- Russian Doll (Netflix) – streaming review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television