|My name is Mia, I kill people and have |
a penis... but I can learn to wuv you.
Paul Abbott, the award winning producer of two hit, stylish British series, Shameless and State of Play, describes how his new series "Hit & Miss" (in the US on Direct TV) came about:
"Two projects were on my desk: one about a transsexual mother of five, the other about a hitman. The trouble with the first was the way the penis became an obstructive prop – it seemed that was all there was to talk about." One day I thought: why can't we have a story about both? Why not have a pre-operative male-to-female transsexual hitman (or hitperson) who discovers she is a father after her ex-girlfriend dies of cancer and puts her in loco parentis of a dysfunctional family deep in the Yorkshire countryside."
The series' main writer, Sean Conway explains, "It's a story of a character who has been a man, wants to become a woman, realises she's a father, wants to become a mother." There you go, instant series. To play Mia, 'the transsexual,' they hired Chloe Sevigny, an obvious choice because a) she played a trans man's girlfriend in "Boys Don't Cry;" b) she'll do pretty much anything in a film as evidenced by the real life blow job she gave in the indie disaster "Brown Bunny;" and c) she has considerable hipster, indy cred. As the producer Abbott stated, "She looks like a bloke and she’s allowed herself to look like a bloke." When asked who would like "Hit & Miss" Abbott replied with a straight face, “Everyone who likes a glock with a cock.”
|My name is Paul Abbott, tv producer|
and like a transseuxual contract killer,
I HAVE A PENIS!
As with Abbott's other series (which use the international HBO/AMC style of filmmaking... cool yet detached and sometimes incongruous music scores, moody camerawork, and plenteous mumbled ironic humor) Hit & Miss looks and sounds good. When nasty violence occurs, you know the firearms will make that post-modern silencer sound effect, will feature no holds barred gore and, because it's an actress doing the killing, will leave many geek viewers (and younger feminists) tweeting about the lead character being "kick ass." And so she is. For someone who looks about 120 lbs, at one point she beats the crap out of a tough guy who looks about 7 inches taller and easily 100 lbs. heavier.
|Mia when she was a dude with|
her real woman girlfriend
Basically we are told that hitman Mia gets a letter from her deceased ex-girlfriend (probably a hooker) who gave birth to their now 11-year old son (who looks and acts more like an 8-year old). This boy, Ryan (who has Mia's birth name) lives with older half-siblings—a very hardass teen girl Riley, her brother Levi, and an oblivious younger half-sister, Penny. After their mom's death, they stay in a ramshackle farmhouse in a run down rural area of Yorkshire where Riley is trying to keep them together and out of the hands of Child Services. Mom has bestowed guardianship of the four children to Mia. And here, the series resembles a few previous productions... TransAmerica (trans woman's kid comes back to haunt and redeem her) and Three Men and a Baby and umpteen other comedies where males who are viewed as completely unsuited towards mothering are expected to take care of vulnerable and emotionally wounded children (with a little bit of Lord of the Flies thrown in). Evidently, a series where a trans woman is just being a mom wasn't flashy enough (or male enough or good for enough laughs?) so the contract killer aspect was needed to give it a two-spirit contemporary edge. In the first episode, she mostly sits to the side, smokes a whole lot of cigarettes around the kids, tells her birth son that school isn't important and her big act of motherhood is beating the bloody crap out of the much bigger guy who might be threatening them. No wonder many trans women lose custody of their children in real life... you call that kind of behavior maternal?!
OMG, Chloe Sevigny's got a... got a... grossss!
Within the first 3 minutes of the first episode, we also get a shower scene of Mia au naturelle shortly after offing someone and, sure enough, her 'obstructive prop' is dangling in plain sight. What was it like for Sevigny to walk around on set with a prosthetic penis? “It was horrifying,” said the actress. “I cried every time they put it on me. I’ve always been very comfortable being a girl, so it was hard to wrap my head around the fact that someone could feel so uncomfortable in their own skin.” When asked in a BBC interview why they felt the need to show Mia naked (featuring said penis) Sevigny somewhat embarrassingly explained, "that was the producer's way of reminding people that she is still a man... and it was provocative, which Paul's productions are."
|Mia shows Levi some motherly tough love|
As with some other recent wannabe hipster productions (like horror film "Let Me In," which I previously reviewed at Skip The Makeup) quite a big deal is made of how a trans woman still has a whooole lot of aggressive dude juice inside them waiting to get out. Mia violently wrenches back Levi's arm when he sasses her... (it's like "whoaaa, new mom is one... tough... dude"). As the series' head writer explained, Hit & Miss is mostly about Mia's transition from an inherently violent and cold-blooded man (seemingly incapable of empathy) to a woman who wants to nurture. At one point, after meeting the 4 kids she's now responsible for, she almost backs out of a potential hit because of her concern the target might have kids. Abbott makes it clear... men (remember, Mia still has A PENIS) want to kill, women want to nurture. Yes, I know, it's terribly post-modern and not in the least gender normative (sic).
|One day without 'mones and Mia's|
punching holes in the wall!
Moreover, at one point Mia can't find her hormone pills (films never even have their trans women take anti-androgens, just plain old hormones) and she keeps clawing at her face as though a beard is ready to sprout and she's going to turn back into a real man, even to the point of putting some subtle makeup on her like it's 3 o'clock shadow. At another point in the first episode, they actually have a dog come up to her in the street and start excitedly sniffing her crotch. No doubt it's that unstoppable male musty smell eating through her panties. Yup, those obstructive props sure force their way into a scene when you least expect it.
|Poochie smells Mia "packin' heat"|
As to where Hit & Miss is going to head in its 6-part run I cannot say having only watched the first episode. It's pretty obviously pointed towards a buckets of blood showdown with the big bully, a Crying Game "dick reveal" and Mia's growing acceptance of herself as a 'new woman' and that she can be nurturing. Not to mention lots more nasty hits. Any of this sound familiar? Which isn't to say Hit & Miss isn't worth watching. Sevigny does a reasonably good job in the main role with her usual moapy-eyed dolefulness (the northern accent comes and goes) and I thought some of the kid actors, especially Karla Crome as Riley, bring a good mix of wildness and vulnerability to their roles. If you liked La Femme Nikita (the film, not the gawd awful tv show) or Alias mixed with British working class white trash, nastiness and grit then Hit & Miss might be highly entertaining. As a show which says anything about a trans experience other than as a sensationalist plot gimmick, it's a washout.
Note: for the moment anyway, Direct TV is showing the first episode of Hit & Miss at this link: