Hooray! It’s Tuesday! That means I’m going to talk about Transamerican Love Story again!
(Well, ok, it’s actually Wednesday now – I wrote this late yesterday afternoon and didn’t have time to post it. So whatever.)
Last night I got ambitious and started taking notes on the show – I realized that in previous weeks, I was relying only on my memory to recap the show. Not a great plan. Sadly, though, I got tired and lazy halfway through the show and stopped taking notes. So the recap of the first half will probably be more detailed and exciting than the second half. Or maybe not. I dunno. Anyway, onward!
Episode 6 opens with Jim reflecting on Mark’s absence, and the distinct change of mood in the house. We see Jim shooting pool, having a drink, relaxing and generally looking happy. Jim, I’m with you. Wait – what’s this? Jim is air mattress surfing? It turns out that Jim is so happy Mark is gone he surfs Mark’s air mattress down the stairs and right into the trash. Hahahaha. That made me laugh out loud, for realz.
Callie is making plans to meet the families of the gentlemen. Cut to Mike talking on the phone with his parents: his dad sounds so happy when he realizes it’s Mike on the phone. That’s kind of adorable! (By the way, did anyone else notice that Mike looks mad cute when his hair is all messy?) After Mike makes plans to take Callie to Las Vegas to Meet the Parents, Callie brings her dragmother China into the house. Callie and China explain that there are occasions in life when we choose our family, and they chose each other. It’s very sweet, and China clearly has an eye out for Callie. She carefully checks out Jim and Mike, spending some one-on-one time with each of them. Mike wastes no time in diming out the other guys: they smoke and drink and live punk rock lifestyles, oh no! That’s unhealthy, and he’s not sure Callie will want to be around it all the time! Oh no! China – who is carefully diplomatic – seems to think that Mike might not be able to handle Callie. Next she spends some time with Jim, and gets right down to business: “Are you in love with Calpernia?” she asks. Jim hems and haws a bit before finally saying, “I am. And I’m not afraid to say it.” Whooo. That’s a whole lot of emotion to lay on a girl, Jim. I think Alec Mapa said it best: Jimtensity. China – again very carefully – states that she’s not sure if Jim loves Callie in a way that will offer strength or if he’s looking to get strength from Callie.
Which raises an interesting point: I have been saying all along that I think Jim is great, and he’s my favorite. And that’s true. I think it has something to do with the writer’s personality, the artistic temperament, that intensity that comes with being hard-wired to feel things much differently than non-creative folks. I tend to feel a connection to other people who share that sense of otherness in terms of emotional volatility – and those people are most often artists of some sort. But I’m not convinced that Jim is the best match for Callie, if only because I think he’s not nearly as comfortable with his transition as she is with hers. Perhaps it’s because Callie has been fully transitioned for awhile, and Jim is still in the process – I can’t even imagine how that must play into the way one perceives and is perceived by the world. Of course there are other reasons too (none of which I can say here or I might get dumped, heh), but there you have it.
So, China leaves without meeting Shawn, who is still out of town attending to his own family business. Callie then makes a trip to Las Vegas to meet Mike’s parents. Ok, is it just me, or does Mike look EXACTLY like his dad? I mean, seriously: it was like instant aging on screen. Crazy. And did anyone else notice that Mike and his dad don’t move their mouths very much when they talk? It’s kind of funny.
Anyway, Las Vegas. Callie seems to have fun with Mike’s family: they do a bit of gambling, playing the slots and craps, and they win a bit of cash. Mike takes Callie on a roller coaster ride, and she manages not to get sick. After awhile they retire to the suite that Mike’s parents have reserved, where apparently the Beatles have stayed. Throughout all of this footage, the editors have spliced video confessional footage of Mike’s parents saying things like, “Well we didn’t know what to expect when Mike told us he wanted to date A Transgender.” “We didn’t know what A Transgender would be like.” “I think we thought A Transgender would be different.” Meanwhile, I’m telepathically telling them, “Um, you don’t have to keep calling her A Transgender, ok?” They seem to get the picture because they start talking instead about how they were expecting a “Female Impostor Impersonator,” someone “more artificial” but she’s so regular looking.
Ok, to be fair: Mike comes from, like, somewhere in the Midwest, and I can’t imagine that his family has had a huge amount of exposure to the TG community. They were only voicing what most people with no experience would say. I’m sure at some point I sounded just like that. It just sounds rather funny to hear it now.
So in the suite Mike’s parents hone in on the tough (and by “tough” I mean “annoyingly pedantic and condescending”) questions for Callie – “Are you totally a girl now? Do you feel different? Did you feel like a boy for 20 years?” Callie, bless her, handled the situation with grace and dignity, carefully and calmly answering questions I’m sure she’s had to answer for many, many years. Again, to be fair: maybe there was some precursor to all those questions which clearly indicated that Callie was open to receiving them and discussing everything so frankly. But it sure seemed like Mike‘s parents just jumped right in and fired away.
When all is said and done, Mike’s parents think Callie is a lovely girl, but not quite right for Mike.
Next up: Jim’s family. Jim’s parents fly in and have a meal with Callie and Jim at the mansion, where they have a nice conversation about how supportive they have been of Jim during his transition. Callie comments on how it’s good for her to see that since her own family wasn’t supportive, and Jim’s father reaches a hand over, pats Callie on the arm and says, “Well, while we’re all here together, let us be that for you.” Awww. I just got choked up.
Later, two of Jim’s friends come to the mansion to meet Callie – she seems to like them, though there isn’t a huge amount of screen time devoted to that interaction. Instead, the editors have focused on Jim’s conversation with his friends: Jim hasn’t completed all of the surgery required for a full transition, and is now worried that might affect his chances with Callie. Later at dinner, he brings that very subject up, explaining that he doesn’t yet have the money required to pay for the surgery. Callie listens sympathetically, then quietly explains that it doesn’t much matter to her, as she sees him as a man and she already knows that a few bits here or there don’t make a person into something else. Jim is visibly relieved, and then drops the L-bomb on her. Whoa, dude – hold back a little with that Jimtensity, eh? Callie essentially says “thank you,” but Jim remains confident that he’s still in the running, especially after the kiss they shared.
Donna and I are, at this point, making bets that Jim will be on a plane home tonight.
Shawn finally comes home (lookin’ quite cute, I have to say, in his little baseball cap and sunglasses with some dark scruff around the face), and he takes Callie to his hometown of Ventura, CA. He takes her for a nice dinner where he explains to her that his family hasn’t been hugely supportive of this experience, his decision to potentially become involved with a transwoman, etc. I think Callie looks disappointed but it’s clear she understands – her own family wasn’t supportive. Shawn instead climbs up on the stage to play a little music for her (and this is about when I stopped taking notes), and she does seem really moved by the performance.
So Callie meets with Andrea in her cottage. Andrea attempts to give Callie some hard truths – “I think Jim is really in love with you. Which is a problem, because I don’t think you’re in love with him.” She tells Callie that she thinks Jim is only still on the show because he’s trans. Callie just looks frustrated. Clearly she cares about all of these guys – maybe not romantically, but she certainly does feel for them.
Something to note here: there are quite a few differences between this show and it’s other, more salacious cousins on MTV and VH1. The amount of sex on those shows is enough to make a girl (like me) really want to vomit; there has been nothing more than a hot make out session featured on TLS. I think this is a good thing, emphasizing that there’s more than sex to a good connection. Another difference, I think, is Callie’s empathy: you can see each week how much it hurts her to say to someone, “Not you.” I don’t think that she wants to say yes to everyone, but I do think that she really wants each person to know that her dismissal is not a judgment, not a sentence of “you’re not good enough.” She’s way more gracious than any of her bachelorette counterparts, and that is a wonderfully refreshing thing to see.
During elimination, Shawn again gets the first chocolate. He just keeps looking cuter and cuter, I have to say. Jim gets the second, and Donna and I are flummoxed – we were with Andrea, recognizing that Callie doesn’t seem to have great chemistry with him. Mike looks stunned – he really, really thought he was staying. Turns out, he’s right: Callie decided she couldn’t let any of them go yet, and hands Mike a chocolate she’s been hiding in her hand. Whew! Fake-out!
Next week: the remaining guys move with Callie to a hotel in LA.