The Closer: Season 5, Episode 14

Make Over (14 Dec. 2009)

TV Episode  -   -  Crime | Drama | Mystery
7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 92 users  
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Major Crimes runs into a problem when it is forced to reopen an old murder case and discovers that the detective who closed the case--Provenza's ex-partner--has had a sex change and is now a woman.

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Doris Osgood
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Storyline

Just as Brenda and Fritz are about to go off on a long anticipated weekend holiday, Brenda learns for the first time that Major Crimes has been looking into a seven year-old murder that was re-opened after the forensic lab that processed the crime scene evidence is discredited. Lt. Provenza was one of the original investigators on the case and assures Brenda that everything is in order. He's particularly pleased that his old partner, now retired Detective George Andrews, is returning to Los Angeles to help out on the case. Provenza isn't quite prepared for what he sees when George is now Georgette, having undergone sex re-assignment surgery. The DA is prepared to drop the case against Doris Osgood, a home care worker who killed one of her elderly charges. Brenda decides to stay in L.A. and make sure they get the evidence they need to make sure the previous conviction sticks. Written by garykmcd

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Crime | Drama | Mystery

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TV-14 | See all certifications »
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14 December 2009 (USA)  »

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Dr. Morales: [to his Morgue assistant busying himself with an exhumed body] Can you give me a hand?
Sgt. David Gabriel: [the Morgue assistant breaks off the right hand off the body and hands it to Dr. Morales] Ew!
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Another wonderful episode
21 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Spoiler warning: There should be no spoilers for this episode of The Closer, given what's said in the episode synopsis, but I will mention other TV shows and movies in a manner that might reveal details you'd rather keep as surprises. First of all, let me say that I love The Closer, and am utterly addicted to it, so I'm always going to be a little biased in its favor.

Given that the IMDb synopsis for this episode reveals the key aspect of the show, which might have been considered a spoiler (other than revealing how our heroine gets the baddies in the end), I'll comment more on the gender-related aspect of the show. I can't speak for all transgendered people, of course, but I am one, so I can at least speak for myself, and how this episode of The Closer affected me.

Over the last few years, there has been a gradual shift in the portrayal of the gender variant. Not that long ago, we weren't mentioned at all. Criminals would occasionally try to make a getaway in drag, usually being given away by their Adam's apples. These masqueraders gave way to characters who were portrayed as (and referred to as) "tranny hookers", dressed like disheveled drag queens and found beaten up or murdered in dark alleys. Yes, there are people who identify as drag queens, and there are people who identify as "trannies", and some are sex workers, but trans-women have precious little in common with either group. Finally, we graduated (!) into being shown as serial killers (can you say "Silence of the Lambs"?) or, if we were lucky, merely murder victims.

This pretty much followed the track that gay people had to suffer, only we're trailing a decade or two behind. I freely admit that I'm heartily sick of transgendered people being the serial killers. Yes, lots of us may be seriously broken, or even crazy. Try bottling up being born in the wrong body to drive you a little nuts! Many commit suicide, and many mutilate themselves, but that doesn't mean we're serial killers. Being confused about gender identity is a pretty lame reason for being a serial killer, whether in fiction or reality. Scriptwriters who take this approach, it seems to me, are taking a rather puerile cop-out approach; a shot at a soft target.

Criminals-masquerading-as-women type characters (e.g., Jaye Davidson in The Crying Game) have to be played by genetic men so that they can have the big reveal. There are precious few trans-men characters on the TV or in the movies up to now, Sea of Souls 3.2 being an exception. Trans-women characters are effectively always played by genetic women. It's understandable that there aren't many trans actors and actresses (let alone any who would want to be identified as such). Still, wonderful though these actresses may be, they usually fail to be persuasive in their roles - they simply don't look like trans-women. Good examples of this are Felicity Huffman in Transamerica, Helen Shaver in The Education of Max Bickford, and Rachael Stirling in Inspector Lewis (a recent example of the multiple murderer ilk). The only real exception to this rule, of which I am aware, is Candis Cayne's performance as Carmelita in Dirty Sexy Money – a trans part played by a trans-woman (You go, girl!).

All of this rambling serves to highlight just how unusual this episode of The Closer is – and how refreshing. We have Beau Bridges, a chromosomal male (as far as I'm aware!), playing the role of a trans-woman. OK, so The Closer is a very funny show (although often wrapped around very serious topics), so we can expect a certain number of chuckles, but we get them both at the expense of the trans-woman character, and at the normal cast. When I came out, I didn't face the sort of ribbing that Beau Bridges's character did, but I can easily imagine that I might have, had I been working in a more butch profession. Bridges doesn't make a particularly attractive woman to me eye, but many trans-women don't. Indeed, their need for awfully expensive sex reassignment surgery is so great that they will often have run out of money before they can get to facial feminisation surgery. Thus, having a thoroughly unreconstructed Beau Bridges was a pleasant dose of reality. We can't all be as gorgeous as Candis Cayne, or the chromosomal women who play us.

Thank you, producers of The Closer. I love the show, and now I feel a little less tarred as a serial killer!


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