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  WINDY CITY TIMES

New sitcom stars transgender actors
by Charlsie Dewey
2017-07-19

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The Switch is a new sitcom starring five transgender actors in trans roles—making it the first of its kind in television history.

The show's tagline is "Work. Love. Mortal Danger," and Amy Fox, one of the show's producers and cast members, said the six-episode first season touches on "urban gentrification, climate-change-driven eco terrorism, and trans Americans fleeing Trump's United States."

Fox said the show, which is set in East Vancouver's queer underground, is also "saturated with millennial geek culture."

The Switch centers on main character SÃ, played by pro wrestler Nyla "The Destroyer" Rose, who is described as a once upwardly mobile software manager who is now unemployed and sleeping on her ex's couch.

"The first season follows SÃ as she comes out as trans and winds up crashing on her ex's couch in the millennial queer underground, amidst unstable employment, unstable housing and unstable people," Fox explained. "She has to rebuild her life and as we follow her, we see our characters go from distant acquaintances and strangers to come together to form a real community. Oh, and it's full of video games, dating angst, capers and oil lobbyist assassination."

Yes, that's right; Fox plays Chris, an oil-lobbyist assassin.

"Chris is based on myself: scruffy, autism-spectrum, ideologically driven and living in that wild desert between "trans woman" and "butch." Ze lives the kind of life that our society can't imagine, but which very much exists," Fox said. "Society and media expects any trans person who is assigned male at birth to spend their life striving for convention: tidiness, grace, normative femininity—but Chris shrugs at that, grabs zer crossbow and goes off to assassinate another oil lobbyist."

While the season's many interweaving storylines are unique in and of themselves, what also makes The Switch unique is that it centers on a group of trans characters, all of which are played by trans actors. Fox said this is important for a number of reasons.

"I believe that we need to make media that shows the full range of humanity," Fox said. "If you look at the best-paid or most-cast actors, it's clear that being any combination of heavy, female, average-looking, old, openly gay, brown, mixed, trans, visibly disabled, short, and/or just having an accent that's not Midwestern pretty much shovels you into second, third or eighth place no matter how good an actor you are.

"It's absurd that our media pushes the idea that 98 percent of humanity just isn't worth camera time. That most lives just aren't worth talking about—and it's even more ridiculous when TV and movies about the experiences, history and rights of various minorities refuse to hire said minorities."

Casting trans actors in trans roles is one step towards equity, according to Fox, who said the next step is moving trans actors beyond roles such as prostitutes and street people to "bus-drivers, parents, doctors, vampires or space captains."

"Roles that can and should come from the whole range of humans," Fox said.

And that is exactly what The Switch does. It presents a variety of trans characters with individual stories and motivations—and then gives them a whole lot of shenanigans to survive.

Fox said detailed outlines for a second season have already been developed and the show's cast and producers are eager to get back to work, but a second season is dependent on enough sales of season one.

Fox and business partner Ingo Lou are currently in mid-development on Synthesis, a "spacefaring sci-fi series" slated for 2019. The pair has previously produced Ko Eto's "Floating Away" and "La Quinceañera" for Time-Warner as well as a BravoFact short, among several other projects.

The Switch, which was produced by Trembling Void Studios, is available on iTunes, Amazon Prime, Google Play, Revry and Vimeo On Demand.


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