Found this on Netflix 4 years after it's airdate. I actually really enjoyed it and have to say, A TransAmerican Love Story is very relevant to our culture and necessary to have to continue breaking down stereotypes... Sadly, the power of the show falls on the shoulders of the contestants themselves, in particular, Jim Howley. The contestants of this show are particularly brave, and their diversity alone introduces some fascinating dynamics as well as conflicts regarding social/political/religious ideas.
Calpernia herself, the star of this "Bacheorelette-With-A-Twist" reality series is by far the biggest distraction. When I referenced above the critical necessity in our culture for a show like this to break down Stereotypes.. well, Calpernia falls victim to every single one imaginable in Trans culture. Over inflated lips, exaggerated surgical feminization of the face/body, hyper-sexualization ond encouraged objectification of her body (The outfits she wears, everything from a harem bikini to full on corset and stockings with her bottom hanging out as she performs cabaret!) and the desire to constantly put the male contestants in "challenges where they have to lose clothes or wear suggestive costumes while our Trans-Protagonist drools. Calpernia didn't behave like a woman. She behaved more like a gay man who went overboard trying to look like a woman. I had trouble imagining many of the things she said and decisions she made being repeated by a biological woman. If anything, Calpernia's presence on the show amplified the chasm between transgendered people and mainstream viewers. To offset the imbalance of Calpernia, the construct of the show lacked the sensationalism we've become institutionalized with when we think of reality TV. In fact, what could have been one of reality TV's most sensational twists in character reveal, actually made one particular contestant vying for Calpernias affections the most memorable figure of the entire program.
I understand why this show never made it back for a second season given the cool reception it received from audiences who felt alienated by the Jessica-Rabbit wannabe Calpernia. However, if they had brought in a genuine, non-showgirl into the position, it's likely audiences would have embraced the central figure rather than stare at her lips in awe or disgust. I never once developed enough compassion for Calpernia, even when she became an emotional train wreck, to care about the outcome for her, instead I was more invested in the contestants and their personal journeys.
That's not to say this show isn't worth watching. It's really refreshing to see a break from the social average that reality TV has been reduced to over the years. It's high time Americans are shown that other kinds of people exist and seek love and compassion.
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