's recommendation, I watched the first episode of 2012's Hit & Miss
last night and was impressed. I can't remember a modern television series that felt more like a classic Western, not even Firefly
Chloë Sevigny plays Mia, a quiet, elegant assassin. After fulfilling a contract with a silenced pistol at the beginning of the episode she learns from her employer that she has a son. Mia's a transwoman and her ex-girlfriend, Wendy, now deceased from cancer, had given birth to Mia's son without informing her. But Wendy has now bequeathed custody of the son, Ryan, along with three other kids Wendy had from other fathers.
The children live on a remote farm in Ireland, its stone buildings looking like they can't be younger than three hundred years. The children, especially Riley, the oldest, are hostile to Mia and despite her mother's desires Riley wants Mia to just sign papers telling the government the kids are looked after but to in practice sod off.
They call her freak because she's a transwoman but the hostility seems more related to the fact that she's a stranger. A peculiarly cool stranger capable of controlled, extreme physical violence.
This comes in handy when Mia has to deal with the abusive landlord. The lone gun outsider who comes to protect the family unit on the frontier is one of the classic Western scenarios, exemplified in movies like John Ford's The Searchers
or Anthony Mann's Man of the West
. Making the gunfighter a transwoman compliments this trope very nicely.
Maybe the Western I thought of most was Django Unchained
. It came to mind as I was thinking about the casting of Chloë Sevigny as a transwoman. Sevigny was born female so a transwoman portrayed by her would not exhibit many of the physical characteristics most real transwomen would have to deal with, characteristics that might be crucial aspects of such a character's development. One advantage, though, of having someone biologically female in the role is in giving perspective to the audience, allowing them to see the painful absurdity in the contrast of someone who knows she's female in a world that does not wish to regard her as such.
It also plays into Mia being a larger than life hero. One of the complaints I've heard about Django Unchained
is that it's not realistic for a slave to exact the extravagant revenge Django was able to. What those people miss is that Django Unchained
is wish fulfilment and as such provides an empowering answer to emotional damage and needs wrought by abuse. The same is true in the case of Mia in Hit & Miss
--one tends not to hear about transgender people beating the shit out of anyone. In fact, news sites, particularly those covering Russia nowadays, tend to be full of stories of the opposite occurring, stories of innocent transgender individuals suffering from physical and emotional abuse from family and strangers alike.
Mia encounters people with the will to such bigotry but because she's a preternaturally skilled contract killer, she's able to come out on top in the end and it's tremendously satisfying.
The only scene in the episode where Mia is really emotionally open is in a somewhat odd karaoke sequence where she sings "Let Me Kiss You", a song Morrissey wrote for Nancy Sinatra. The lyrics, about someone's dissatisfaction with their own body and their desire to be regarded as attractive in spite of it, cover a lot of ground in Mia's story that's not really at the surface, at least in this first episode. The scene really strongly reminded me of the karaoke scenes in Boys Don't Cry
, even before I remembered Chloë Sevigny was in that movie as well. That movie is about a transman in rural U.S. with a title referencing a song by The Cure--actually making it seem like the alternate reality version of Hit & Miss
, now that I think about it.