This week The Closer took a shot at exploring transgender issues when Detective Provenza’s former partner, George Andrews, returns to town to testify in an old murder trial. Much to Provenza’s surprise, George shows up as Georgette, a transgender lesbian.
At first Provenza thinks it’s a joke, and is outraged when he realizes it’s not. He takes Georgette back to the station in a huff where the DA says she can’t put Andrews on the stand "looking like that." Brenda says they need "his testimony, not his testicles," and the DA says the jury won’t buy Georgett’s story: "If Andrews was confused about his gender, maybe he was confused about what [the murderer] told him."
Right, because it’s a scientific fact that your ears don’t work properly until you embrace your true gender identity.
Provenza is furious with Georgette, and tries to bully her into taking the stand dressed as a man, telling her to "put on the clothes [you were] born to wear" and to "strap ’em down, cut the hair, lose the dress and man up!"
Georgette refuses: "I will not take the stand as a man. Not only would I be committing perjury; I’d be lying to myself. And I’ve gone to a great deal of trouble not to do that anymore."
The episode gets Very Special when a roomful of detectives start asking Georgette about her transition. They intend to mock her, and Brenda tries to shut them down, but Georgette wants to answer their questions:
When Georgette tells them she prefers women, Provenza loses it, shouting, "You underwent a sex change to become a lesbian?!"
Georgette calmly answers, "It had nothing to do with my sexual preference. It was more about how I identified with the world, personally. And you weren’t bothered that I was a lesbian when I was a guy."
The team finds a way to bring the murderer to trial without Georgette’s testimony, but she does end up dressing like a man to re-question the murderer. Brenda explains it as "going undercover" as opposed to perjuring herself in court.
After Provenza and Georgette work the case together, and Georgette gives Provenza a little speech — "I look different. I’m not a man anymore, which means I don’t pee standing up. I wear a dress instead of a suit; I walk differently. I changed how I do a lot of things, but not what’s in my heart!" — Provenza realizes that his former partner is still the same person he worked with for years.
They embrace and Provenza even admires Georgette’s new breasts.
I think The Closer had its heart in the right place with "Make Over." I was worried at first that they were just going to use Georgette as a one-liner punching bag, but most of the other detectives came to respect her. Brenda didn’t have any problems with it, even getting the feminine pronouns right when speaking about her (something Max’s friends never even tried to do on The L Word).
And while Beau Bridges, who played Georgette, did an admirable job with the material, it would have been nice to see an actual transgender actress tackle the role. If you’re going to talk about how far gender transition medical procedures have come, maybe you should show that.
So, A+ for message and B+ for execution.
Did anyone else catch this week’s The Closer?