October 16, 2021 The Newspaper Serving LGBT Los Angeles

“The Switch” is the First Transgender Sitcom in History

Getting a project made by trans people and for trans people is pretty impossible in America. Luckily, there’s Canada. It’s taken a full seven years and two months for Amy Fox, co-creator and showrunner of “The Switch,” to get her vision to the screen. Back when Fox and her co-creator Elizabeth Marston first conceived of “The Switch” as the first scripted transgender sitcom in history, Caitlyn Jenner was still in the closet, Laverne Cox was unknown, and season one of “Transparent” was years away from airing. “We aired the pilot in 2014,” Fox tells me from her home in Vancouver, where “The Switch” was shot, “which makes it the first scripted show with a transgender lead anywhere. There are a couple of talk shows in other countries that have trans people hosting, but we’re the first thing with an actual script.” Fox knew it wouldn’t be exactly easy to pitch the idea to a network. Getting “The Switch” made involved a kind of suspension of disbelief. Not only was it a project that put trans characters at the forefront – it would cast trans actors to play them: Pretty bold stuff for a show that wanted to go full network. Fox and Marston orchestrated a jam session between members of Vancouver’s queer and gender nonconforming community to workshop ideas for the script. “The Switch,” from the start, was conceived of as a radical show:  A story written about trans people, by trans people. From film school to Kickstarter to (finally) a web series, Fox found a way to get her vision onto the small screen. And what a vision it is. “The Switch” details the daily lives of a group of down-and-out trans folks in Canada as they try to navigate the downswings and pitfalls of being trans in a world that doesn’t really know how to handle that fact. When Su, an American immigrant new to Vancouver, tries to pull off a workplace transition, she promptly gets fired. To avoid sudden homelessness, she has to move back in with a sort-of ex (Chris, played by Fox) who’s also a sort-of contract killer: Hijinks ensue.

For Su, every day is a battle: Having to share a grotesque apartment with a lovable maniac, trying (and failing) to find work, and fighting for her life are just par for the course. And that’s not even touching on pronouns, hormones, and legal struggles. “I think real world problems make for great stories,” says Fox. “And trans people have a lot of real-world problems.” In someone else’s hands, “The Switch” might have been bleak. But Fox wasn’t interested in making a tragedy about trans life. “There’s something great that happens with marginalized communities in media, especially in film and television,” says Fox. “It gives people access. First, you’ll see talk shows with trans people, then you’ll see documentaries. Then depressing dramas, family dramas. And I’m like, ‘fuck it, let’s go straight to genre!’” Fox and Marston aired the web series pilot in 2013. The first season was shot in 2015 and aired in Canada last year. If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of “The Switch” yet, it’s because it hasn’t made its way to the U.S. yet. At least, not until June 13, when it begins streaming on Amazon Prime. So far, the reception has been positive. “Moreso from people under 50,” jokes Fox. What makes “The Switch” a true standout is the fact that it even gets to be on the radar of people who are over 50. Fox’s radical experiment – to put nonconventional stories in that most conventional of formats, the sitcom – paid off. And it all began as a kind of community project. “There was this event called Gender Euphoria in 2009,” Fox recalls. “Having a celebration of trans people was radical at the time. It was a middle of the day, out in the open, everyone can come kind of thing. It made a difference in the way people felt about community. Community is not a thing that you cling to in order to survive, it’s this wonderful thing to celebrate, that nourishes you. It doesn’t pretend that things are okay or just, it just says that we don’t have to be miserable all the time. That doesn’t actually help accomplish anything. And really candid comedy is one of the better ways of also presenting stories to people. It makes them feel comfortable even when dealing with incredibly heavy topics. The great thing about a comedy is that there’s less to debate. Are people laughing? If they are, good!” Fox and her team are working on a second season as we speak. In addition to “The Switch,” Amy is currently working on a science fiction show called “Synthesis,” which she describes as an “optimistic space-faring adventure” with “cutting edge politics” and a “positive but nuanced view” of the future, which Fox is excited about. “We all need it right now.”

“The Switch” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime. 

Related Posts

Sex and the City Star Willie Garson Dead At 57

September 28, 2021

September 28, 2021

Acclaimed actor and Los Angeles resident Willie Garson passed away on September 21 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer,...

GLAAD Responds To Historic Emmy Noms

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

GLAAD has responded to the historic Emmy nominations after it was announced that out trans actress MJ Rodriguez and out...

MJ Rodriguez Makes History As First Out Trans Woman Emmy Nominee

July 26, 2021

July 26, 2021

Actress Michaela Jaé, formerly known as  MJ Rodriguez, became the first out trans woman performer to be nominated in a...

“Gayest Episode Ever” An LGBTQ+ Podcast

June 29, 2021

June 29, 2021

Gayest Episode Ever is an LGBTQ+ podcast hosted by journalist Drew Mackie and screenwriter Glen Lakin. The podcast looks at...

Buzzfeed’s Docuseries “The Andrea Mares Project”

June 11, 2021

June 11, 2021

BuzzFeed’s As/Is presents “The Andrea Mares Project,” a docuseries that shadows Andrea Mares, a trans-feminine Latinx, as she embarks on...

2021 Pride Announces “Thrive With Pride” Theme

May 15, 2021

May 15, 2021

LA Pride has announced its 2021 pride theme this year called “Thrive With Pride”.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in...

Ellen DeGeneres Ending 18 Year Talk Show

May 13, 2021

May 13, 2021

After more than 3,000 episodes and 19 seasons it is confirmed that Ellen DeGeneres is ending her talk show The...

Ellen DeGeneres Under Fire For Admitting To Driving Under The Influence

April 30, 2021

April 30, 2021

Ellen DeGeneres is under fire for admitting to driving wife Portia DeRossi to the hospital while under the influence.  While...

Tina Turner Documentary Breaks Records

April 4, 2021

April 4, 2021

Singer, song writer and gay icon Tina Turner released a documentary on HBO Max as a farewell to her fans...

First Gay Teen Captain America Revealed By Marvel

March 28, 2021

March 28, 2021

Marvel Comics has revealed the first look at a new Captain America who happens to be a gay teen.  The...

32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards

March 21, 2021

March 21, 2021

GLAAD, the world’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) media advocacy organization, today announced a new slate of...

New Grindr TV Show

March 18, 2021

March 18, 2021

The popular LGBTQ dating app Grindr is getting its own original scripted TV show set to air this fall. Bridesman...

Anti-LGBTQ Talk Show Host Rush Limbaugh Dies At 70

February 18, 2021

February 18, 2021

Controversial talk show host Rush Limbaugh died on Feb. 17th from complications of lung cancer at his home in Palm...

Hal Holbrook, Actor Who Played Mark Twain, Dies At 95

February 3, 2021

February 3, 2021

Hal Holbrook, the actor best known for his accurate portrayal of Samuel Clemens — better known as Mark Twain —...

Award Decorated Actress, Cloris Leachman, Dead At 94

January 27, 2021

January 27, 2021

Cloris Leachman, Oscar and Emmy winning actress, has died at the age of 94 from natural causes at her home...