Catch up TV review: My Trans American Road Trip, The Gun Shop, Humans
Ivan Radford | On 06, Nov 2016
My Trans American Road Trip (All 4)
Abigail Austin is the first army officer to transition from male to female. And the response that provoked among the military has given her a forthrightness and perseverance that makes Abi not only a hugely endearing screen presence, but also the ideal person to take up the fight against North Carolina’s decision to pass a law that forces transgender women to use men’s toilets. In the run-up to the election, we’re told this has become a significant subject in America – and from a distance, where Trump has dominated the debate, this is a insightful examination of an issue that we might easily be unaware of. Austin challenges the people backing the law in a respectful, but scathingly intelligent manner – watching her interrogate a pastor who says no transgender women will ever use his church’s female loos, only to then use them right in front of him, is a laugh-out-loud delight.
The Gun Shop: Cutting Edge (All 4)
“What’s the rule? Point it away from yourself,” says one parent to a small child as they walk away from a gun shop in America. It’s a moment that you’d laugh at in any other TV show, as the pair trot across the screen with a light touch and incidental tone – but this isn’t a comedy, a satire or even a semi-scripted reality TV programme. This is Channel 4’s Cutting Edge series, and it’s capturing the behind-the-scenes goings-on at a gun shop in Michigan. We get to know the shop’s customers with a gentle, warm tone, seeing how people go to Freedom Firearms to let out some anger, to protect themselves or to try out the firing range – and be surprised by how much the gun kicks in the process. The owner is likeable and entirely sincere – all of which just makes the whole thing more unsettling. A provocative documentary that reminds us in the UK that America’s red-neck, NRA right-wingers are humans too.
Humans: Season 2 (All 4)
Channel 4’s smart, understated sci-fi returns for a welcome second run and the show’s big philosophical and technological questions are expanded across a wider canvas. In this gripping opener, we catch up with Niska in Berlin, as she prepares to awake consciousness in Synths around the world, and are introduced to two new scientists in Silicon Valley, hoping to give birth to artificial intelligence themselves. The show buzzes with scale and ideas, but it’s the witty blend of its themes and intimate character details that really powers Humans forwards – from the Hawkins couple of Laura (Katherine Parkinson) and Joe (Tom Goodman-Hill), now in marital counselling with a Synth, to Gemma Chan’s Mia attempting to pretend she’s a normal Synth without a crush on her new boss. Boot this up immediately.