When I think of shoplifting, I think about the 1990 music video for Jane’s Addiction’s, Been Caught Stealing. It’s fun, crazy, very representative of the early 90’s and I don’t think it particularly glorifies theft.
Some people steal because they want or need something, some because they have the disorder kleptomania (defined as one who cannot resist the urge to steal, it’s classified as an impulse control disorder), but Trinkets is more about addiction.
For Elodie (like Melodie without the “m”), Moe and Tabitha, when times get tough, when they can’t deal with emotions, they don’t drink or vape or cut, they steal. It provides a rush that brings relief from whatever has them down. It’s their addictive coping mechanism.
The Set Up
Based on the 2013 novel by Kirsten Smith (the screenwriter known for Legally Blonde, Ella Enchanted, The Ugly Truth) Trinkets follows Elodie, who has just moved from New Mexico to Portland to live with her father following the death of her mother. New and friendless, Elodie recognizes some girls from school at a SA (Shoplifters Anonymous) meeting.
As I watched the 10 episode season of Trinkets, I could swear I recognized Elodie. Yet I did’t realize that cute, insecure Elodie
is none other than sassy, sarcastic, Marvel superhero, Megasonic Teenage Warhead (Brianna Hildebrand).
Kiana Madeira as Moe, channels Eliza Dushku as the rebel with an incarcerated father.
Quintessa Swindell plays the beautiful but fragile Tabitha who’s shoplifting addiction might be the least of her problems.
Sultry voiced recording artist Kat Cunning (credited as Katrina Cunningham) appears as Sabine and lends two of her songs to the series eclectic soundtrack. The girls school principal Jake Dunford (Emmett Pearson-Brown) is actually the real life drama teacher at the Portland, OR high school where Trinkets was filmed. Viewers might also recognize Brandon Butler and Henry Zaga from the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why.
You’re The Best
The thing that stands out in Trinkets and sets it apart from other teen dramas, and other tv shows in general, is that the main character Elodie, is a lesbian. She’s not the sidekick, she’s not getting killed off in episode 3, the show is about her. Not only is the show about Elodie, it’s not about Elodie coming out. Everyone knows, no one cares. She is just a teen who happens to be gay.
Additionally the LGBTQ+ community is represented by secondary character, Sabine, who is bisexual and by Principal Dunford. The church where the girls attend SA meetings displays a rainbow flag above its doors. None of these things are a big deal, they just are, and it’s beautiful.
Of course every teen drama has to include a scene with substance abuse. The friends take ecstasy at a party to help Elodie impress a girl. Also someone is convinced to steal just to show she is a badass.
The main characters in Trinkets are supposed to be 16. Two of them get involved with older individuals who I assume are 21 or older since they work in a bar. These relationships appear to be heading in the direction of what the law considers statutory rape.
Montages of shoplifting with upbeat music, fancy clothes, flashy jewelry or even sugary treats are seen throughout the season. Tricks of the trade are clearly seen or talked about and only minor penalties are inflicted if they are caught, which almost never happens. Sure Elodie, Moe and Tabitha meet in court ordered Shopaholics Anonymous meetings, but we don’t see many consequences for their actions.
Author Kirsten Smith wrote Trinkets to shine a light on the problems associated with kleptomania/shoplifting addiction. Where it’s easy for books or tv shows to become preachy, Trinkets falls short in depicting the full ramifications of shoplifting for the thieves, their families, retailers and consumers.
Despite obvious problems, Trinkets still deserves to be seen. It’s a realistic teen drama without dystopian elements, fantasy or ridiculous situations (I’m looking at you Riverdale). It deals with a common problem (about 10% of Americans shoplift) that most people probably don’t give much thought. It features LGBTQ+ characters who are doing more than coming out or providing laughs as the gay bestie.
You can find interesting facts and figures about shoplifting in the United States here.