Sunday, July 22, 2012

Small Town Security: A Surprisingly Interesting Move for Reality TV

I've been down on reality TV lately. As a television genre, it seems to so often highlight the worst of our society. You know that we all love to talk trash about it. We love to hate it. So much so, that despite being a widely despised form of entertainment, it flourishes. We're watching it.

Last Sunday, I was at a friends' place to catch the return of Breaking Bad on AMC. (I don't have cable.) All through the premiere, they kept showing previews for their latest reality show, Small Town Security...which to be honest, looked awful. It became the joke of the night to talk about how we were going to watch it since one of our friends went ballistic at even the mere suggestion. So we did watch it, of course.

STS, overall, is stupid and kind of boring. The name tells you everything you need to know, it's about a small town security company in Georgia. And, as with the reality genre in general, the aim is to exploit the people and laugh at their "backward" ways. I have to mention--I kind of loved a few things about it. Like for example, the company and the television station in town are both owned by women. (Even if the women did get on my nerves.)

But that's not the interesting part. At the end of the premiere, we find that the company's most dedicated employee, Dennis Croft, is a transman, and currently the only one on reality television. It was a surprisingly compassionate look at Croft's least so far. It was sort of treated as a cliff hanger, so it is yet to be seen how this will all play out. GLAAD featured an interview with Croft. Here's an excerpt.
GLAAD: What was it like coming out as transgender in your Georgia community?
DC: I haven’t really felt a change…those who know me and about me haven’t flinched. I found that surprising. It has not been what I expected of others and I see that folks are not the typical haters of my kind that I thought. The South has grown up from the childish games of prejudice. 
GLAAD: Is there anything you hope viewers take away from watching the show? DC: Be unafraid of who you are. Do not let yourself nor anyone tell you what you should be or how to live your life. Reach deep into yourself and see who you are and live that. That is your truth and it is the truth to all.
I've got to give major respect to Croft. I'm pulling for AMC to continue to treat him with dignity and compassion ( much as any reality TV character can expect!) I do think the whole "Oh my gosh! He's trans!" situation in the opening episode was a little stereotypical, but I'm holding out hope that this is ultimately a move in the right direction for the representation of trans* people in the media.

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