Welcome to “What’s Good,” a weekly column where we break down what’s soothing, distracting, or just plain good in the streaming world.
Who It’s Good For: The BBC dramedy is very British. If Fleabag left you longing for more of that dry Brit wit and a comedy with the depth of a drama, Trigonometry will satiate you. It’s also got stirringly authentic depictions of friendship, romance, and sex (like a more grounded Lovesick) and the added layer of complicated family drama, like Vida. Basically, if you love a character-driven slow burn of a show that will make you laugh, think and get more than a little turned on, this show’s for you.
How Good Is It? Like any show with two multidimensional Black leads that has even the inkling of buzz, my hopes were high for Trigonometry. It did not disappoint. I was hooked from the opening scene where we meet Ray (Ariane Labed), an Olympic-level synchronized swimmer who gets in a brutal accident in the pool during a routine and has to retire. The show has nothing to do with synchronized swimming (except as a metaphor for, you know, synchronized swimming) but the scene pulls you into Ray’s life immediately. Next, we meet Gemma (Thalissa Teixeira) and Kieran (Gary Carr), a couple who are overworked, horny, and broke. The latter two are big reasons why they ask Ray to move into their flat as their roommate. It’s mostly about money and the sexually frustrated (and seemingly dissatisfied with their relationship) couple would never admit out loud that their instant excitement over Ray had to do with anything but being able to pay the rent, but we, the audience, know better.
Gemma and Kieran are trying so hard to suppress their attraction to Ray it makes for some deliciously tense moments between the throuple. This triad of simmering chemistry is what Trigonometry does best. It’s a show about polyamory that doesn’t play up the dynamic for laughs or for shock value like we usually see unconventional relationships involving more than two people unfold on screen. Instead, the series treats Gemma, Kieran, Ray, and their love story like it would any other romantic leads. You may think a show about a threesome would be more about sex than love, but Trigonometry finds room for both.
Initially, both Gemma and Kieran notice how the other looks at Ray. “Are we going to talk about how you were just looking at her?” They both ask. What each of these actors can convey in a look, especially the glances between each other that tell a story of a longtime couple who are at once at ease and deeply uncomfortable with their closeness, is astounding, and a credit to their nuanced performances. It helps that the world created by writers/creators Duncan Macmillan and Effie Woods treats its subjects like we are eavesdropping on them living their weird lives and so the intimacy oozes off the screen in every scene. When Kieran first brings home Ray to check out their flat and Gemma is accidentally pantless, I almost closed my eyes as to not invade her privacy (then I got lost in a fit of giggles, the scene is FUNNY). The show does such a GREAT job of putting you inside these three lives, you’ll be wondering if there’s room for a fourth.
Things that are also good:
• Red Bull helping you get through the workday after you stay up until 4 a.m. for Beyoncé
• The documentary The Greatest Freedom Show On Earth about the Emancipation celebrations organized by Walter Perry in Windsor, ON, between 1936 and 1968