The Closer Tackles Trans Issues Uncomfortably
Beau Bridges plays a transwoman on The Closer.
By Lola Houston,
3:02PM, Wed. Dec. 23, 2009
Beau Bridges was the guest star on last Monday's episode of TNT's The Closer, playing a transwoman named Georgette. He played one of the detective's former (male) partners (as in Starsky and Hutch not as in Bette and Tina). Following me so far? Good. The wrench is thrown when the LAPD must call Georgette, whom they think is still George, back to help on a case.
Normally, I watch The Closer on TNT to see Kyra Sedgwick's hot little booty in even hotter business attire and the hottest shoe wardrobe on television, now that Sex and the City is just reruns (may she rest in syndicated peace). For those of you who don't watch The Closer, it is your basic cop show format. Workaholic cop with a heart of gold and balls of steel (Sedgwick) always solves the crimes and catches the bad guys, with a cast of male detectives, with a host of their own personal strengths and issues.
This episode, entitled "Make Over", was not much different. A conviction was overturned and they needed the cop to which the perp confessed to testify at the retrial. Enter Beau Bridges as Georgette. Unbeknownst to the LAPD or her former partner, Lt. Provenza, Georgette has changed much about her personal appearance since retirement. The first half of this episode made me cringe. Lt. Provenza, had nothing, but horrible things to say about and to his former partner, denying working with her unless she was dressed as and presenting as a he. Everyone seemed personally or professionally awkward around Georgette and at times it was difficult to tell if it was the actor's discomfort or the character's discomfort which, in turn, made this episode hard to watch.
I do applaud a number of things about the episode, one of which was the portrayal of a trans character as something other than a crime victim or perpetrator. The other is the grace with which Beau Bridges played Georgette. Who would have thought? I also think that Georgette, for most of the episode, was a well-written character. She was spicy and full of life. Snapping back at the invasive questions asked of her in the squad room, something to the effect of, "So what'd they do with your penis?" With accurate and honest answers. What I didn't like was the treatment of the character arch of this character.
I can understand the poor treatment of the character in the beginning of the episode, when she returns having told no one that she transitioned, as an attempt by the writers to realistic. Few of us would be lucky enough to return to our former job or friends or life after changing something so noticeably dramatic without encountering some form of questioning or hesitation. And over the course of the episode, many of the characters are, at least on the surface, fine and perfectly nice to Georgette.
What really bothers me about this episode is that although Georgette proclaims several times that, now that she has found herself she will not pretend to be George any longer, in the end she does. She puts on a suit, cuts off her hair, and interviews suspects as George and justifies it by saying now that everyone understands that she is a woman it is just a costume. This feels wrong and unrealistic. I do not think this character or anyone for that matter would fight all their lives to be seen as one gender and then the second they get it, give in to what society wanted all along. The real kicker is that now Georgette has given in and dressed as a man, her former partner is supposedly beginning to see her as a woman. This resolution does not ring true to me and leaves me feeling odd, torn, and unresolved. Do you watch The Closer? Did you watch this episode? If not you can on TNT's website. Again, he episode name is "Make Over." Comment and let me know what you thought.