BETTER THINGS gives us an unforgettable finale – Frankie (Hannah Alligood) believes she is a boy. And this young girl, rather young boy, is very lucky to have Sam (Pamela Adlon) as her mother.
Transgender issues have slowly moved to the forefront of our society recently. We are a little more aware of the discrimination and violence against trans people, especially because of champions like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox. Because of this awareness, their rights are included with everyone’s rights. I can’t imagine how Janet or Laverne felt before they told their families that although they were naturally born males, they felt in their heart that they were females. That is a conversation that no child wants to have with his/her parent and vice versa because a lot of sobbing will ensue. It doesn’t mean the parent will not accept the child for his/her choice, but in the beginning, it is sad. It will be like a parent losing a daughter or son.
Frankie isn’t a an adult like Mock and Cox, but at an early age, she believes that her true gender is male. She lies to Sam that the reason she uses the boys’ bathroom is because the girls were doing nasty things in the girls bathroom. Sam buys it, but then Max (Mikey Madison) pretty much tells Sam that Frankie identifies as a boy. Holy crap. How does a mom deal with this? All Sam does is cuddle up with Frankie. This scene doesn’t indicate whether they just fell asleep or they talked. I imagine it was the former and then the latter. Because Sam is a transparent parent, I can easily see her sparking a conversation with Frankie as they lie on her bed, asking her really awkward but well-meaning questions like: So, I heard from your sister that you think you’re a boy. Is that true? There is no right way to discuss a child knowing her true gender identity. You just ask a lot of questions to be sure they’re sure, and if they’re sure, then you support. Sam is that kind of mother.
The last scene in this finale is of Sam and the girls (plus Max’s beau) in the mini-van singing “Only Women Bleed” by Alice Cooper. I’ve never heard this song, but man, is it good. It is a song about the pain a woman goes through with a man. This woman is taken for granted, beaten, and if that’s not enough, she bleeds. It’s unclear whether the bleeding is from being beaten or, and this is my belief, it’s representative of getting your period. The idea is that women go through so much, and bleeding every 28 days is the extra straw that could break a woman’s back but doesn’t…because she’s a woman. The phrase “Man up” should be changed to “Woman up.”
I can’t help but interject something in here about President-Elect Donald Trump. Ugh. This is real life. What may be scary to someone like Frankie is his presidency. Trans issues weren’t discussed at all when he was running, but he sure had a lot to say about other marginalized groups. Trump’s presidency affects mothers like Sam. It affects sisters like Frankie’s. It affects friends like Sam’s, who love and support kids like Frankie. Watching an episode like this was inspiring but also sad because of the negative things Trump inspired in some of his supporters. However, this episode restores faith in the goodness of American mothers like Sam and American trans-boys like Frankie.
Kudos to “Better Things” for offering the funny and the real in its first season. Until Season 2.
Season 1, Episode 10 (S01E10)
Better Things airs Thursday at 9PM on FX
Jennifer spends her nights writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog.
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Jennifer Ford | Contributor