This blog post is very long overdue. I have been wanting to write this review for about a year now, but either I have lacked the time to write or there seemed to be something more pressing to write about. Anyway, I am finally able to give you my review of ‘Accused, Tracie’s Story‘.
‘Accused‘ is a British television series that ran on BBC from 2010 to 2012. Two seasons were produced with a total of ten episodes. I have only watched episode of the second season (‘Tracie’s Story’) and this review is limited to this episode. I will do my best to avoid any plot spoilers.
Sean Bean, perhaps better known for his portrayal of manly and ‘butch’ characters like Eddard Stark (Game of Thrones), John Marlott (The Frankenstein Chronicles), Richard Sharpe (The Sharpe Series), Boromir (Lord of the Rings) and Andy McNab (Bravo Two Zero), plays Simon, transgender person.
By day he presents as a male English teacher who transforms into Tracie at night. Simon/Tracie’s gender identity is not fully explored, and we do not really understand Simon’s/Tracie’s gender identity very well. I believe that this was done for artistic and dramatic reasons. The story is very ‘moody’ and the needs to be told quickly and concisely. The focus of the story are themes of betrayal and guilt. Spending a lot of time delving into Simon/Tracie’s motivations and gender identity would simply detract from the more compelling portions of the story.
Having said that, I believe that the issues are dealt with compassionately, sensitively and without judgement. It would have been easy to portray Simon/Tracie in a negative light. The same with the men who are attracted to Tracie. Instead, the director and writer deal with these people sensitively and without judgement. Conversely, the bigots and prejudiced people are portrayed less well and as a result we get a real sense of pathos in respect of both Simon/Tracie and the men who are deeply conflicted by their sexual desire for Tracie.
What is interesting is that Sean Bean does a good job of transforming into a female persona. he seems to really understand his subject matter and manages to get a good balance. Tracie does not ‘pass’, but I think this has been done deliberately, allowing us to see the two ‘sides’ of Simon/Tracie.
Obviously having very good makeup artists and stylists on hand whilst being a professional actor helps as well, it could be argued that it would have been better to cast a transgender actor in this role, but I am not sure I would agree with that assertion. Simon is not ‘out’ in his day job and whilst Tracie roams the world relatively freely, Simon presents as much as he can as an ‘ordinary’ man (if such a thing even exists). Sean Bean did a good job in his portrayal of Simon/Tracie and it certainly proves that Sean bean is more than a one trick pony, capable of portraying different roles very effectively. It seems he has been somewhat unfairly type-cast.
I will not go into the plot too much to avoid spoilers, but you will want to know that the story is told well. The issues of sexual attraction, bigotry and especially guilt and betrayal are explored in detail. The loneliness that so many transgender people experience is explained and the consequences if this are also dealt with. I was interested in the way the director dealt with the difference between love and lust and how we can confuse the one for the other. This has far reaching implications for our relationships and creates problematic imbalances within romantic relationships.
The very different characters that are brought out by Simon vs Tracie is also interesting. Simon is a rather dull and dusty English teacher. Tracie is a glamorous and vivacious woman who uses all the vocabulary at Simon’s disposal to effectively deal with bigots. This shows Tracie to be empowered and powerful in her own right. This is rather refreshing as we are often presented by transgender people as quintessential victims unable to effectively assert themselves in the world.
If you are looking for some 60 minutes of transgender related entertainment, but that is not heavily transgender focused and that treats transgender people with compassion you may enjoy this. I am happy to recommend this to television episode. Transgender people will, I believe, enjoy it for its subject matter. Cisgender people will enjoy the story which is compelling and dramatic; Sean Bean’s fans will love seeing him stretched and pull of a convincing performance rather different to his usual characters. Find an hour and ensconce yourself on the couch. You will not be sorry.