I have no illusions about the audience for whom Netflix’s Trinkets is designed, and it’s not the one who typically reads this site. It’s a teen drama based on a YA novel of the same name, written by Kirsten Smith. But I also understand that our typical reader — a female, 35-year-old liberal arts major — probably reads as much or more YA fiction as actual young adults (and I include myself among those who read a lot of YA lit).
However, given that the Netflix series is geared toward a teen audience, I want to give it some latitude, but even then, it’s disappointing series compared to other television shows marketed toward the same audience: MTV’s marvelous Awkward, Netflix’s The Society, the terrific Sex Education, The Runaways, or even problematic but entertaining shows like 13 Reasons Why or baffling but occasionally entertaining shows like Riverdale. The best that I can say for Trinkets is that it is inoffensively bland. The drama is low key, the writing is subpar, the acting is so-so, and the series itself just kind of exists. It’s not bad, but it’s not good, either. Even granting considerable latitude to the series, it is at best passably entertaining.
It does have an interesting cast, however. It’s a mix of familiar faces that look unfamiliar out of context, like the lead Brianna Hildebrand, who plays Elodie Davis. She’s a mousy wallflower who just moved in with her estranged Dad and his wife and son, after her mother died in a DWI accident. She’s not adjusting well to her new school, in part because she misses her girlfriend at her old school, and she takes advantage of the fact that no one ever notices her by shoplifting. It’s a far less showy role that the one Hildebrand is best known for, Negasonic Teenage Warhead in the Deadpool movies.
After she gets caught shoplifting, her Dad (character actor Larry Sullivan from Big Little Lies) enrolls her in a shoplifting anonymous meeting, where forges an unlikely friendship with two of her classmates: Moe (Kiana Madeira), the smart girl who hides it beneath her tough talk and leather jacket (think Tori from Saved by the Bell), and Tabitha (Quintessa Swindell), the popular girl who has an abusive boyfriend played by Brandon Butler (who also plays a bully in 13 Reasons Why). Over the course of the series, these three women — who seemingly have nothing in common except for an addiction to shoplifting — become best friends, as they deal with their own issues at school and at home, including survivor’s guilt, abandonment, abuse, and divorce (in fact, Tabitha’s mom is played by Joy Bryant from Parenthood, although she is mostly wasted here).
The production values are low rent, the storylines all feel stitched together, and even when the women are dealing with heavier issues in their lives, there’s very little intensity or any sense of urgency. Trinkets can best be described as occasionally cute, but mostly muted and sleepy, as though the first draft of a read through were filmed and turned into a series. It lacks something, but it is not even defined enough to know what it is lacking.
Header Image Source: Netflix