Transgender series — officially TV’s latest trend.
The same morning Discovery Life network announced an April 11 premiere date for its five-part reality series New Girls On The Block about a group of transgender women from Kansas City, MO, that’s being promoted as “the first series to embed with a real group of female friends within the transgender community” — fellow Discovery Communications network TLC rushed to catch up, announcing it had ordered an 11-episode series about transgender teen Jazz Jennings and her family, called All That Jazz, scheduled to premiere this summer.
“Only TLC can tell this family’s story in way that celebrates and demystifies difference in an effort to help create a world without prejudice,” insisted Marjorie Kaplan, Group President, TLC & Animal Planet.
The many other networks that have jumped on the trend would take issue.
In December, ABC Family ordered a reality series called My Transparent Life — not to be confused with Amazon’s scripted comedy Transparent starring Jeffrey Tambor as a family patriarch who transitions to a woman. MTL follows a teenager named Ben who learns that his parents are divorcing and his father is becoming a woman. It’s from from Ryan Seacrest Prods.
HBO has one of the more original transgender projects in the works; in September it announced Three Suits, a Lena Dunham exec produced documentary about transgender clients of Brooklyn bespoke tailor Bindle & Keep.
MTV is home to docu-series Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word, debuting last October, about seven transgender youths, and cable cousin VH1 in May announced it had ordered an eight-episode reality series TransAmerica, produced by Tyra Banks, following women from Chicago who are transgender. Carmen Carrera, a model who is transgender, stars.
And, though E! has yet to confirm, it’s working on a reality series following Bruce Jenner’s transition; Jenner’s also scheduled to be be the subject of a Diane Sawyer interview for ABC that may air in April.
And, Orange Is The New Black‘s cast includes Laverne Cox, who became the first openly transgender actor to receiving an Emmy acting nominations.
While ABC News recently noted the programming trend has transgender Americans becoming ever more visible in pop culture, normalizing the way society views them, not everyone is on board. Brent Bozell and Tim Graham, for instance, last fall noted with disbelief that Amazon.com issued a content warning to viewers before live-streaming the second volume of classic Tom And Jerry cartoons, saying they “may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today” at the same time Amazon “is also releasing a new ten-part web-TV series called Transparent, about a 70-year-old father of three who decides he’s a woman named Maura” with “no content warnings for this. There is only progressive euphoria.”