A they and her self

When she became they:

The non-binary comedian’s hit TV show draws heavily on an often troubled life. They talk about addiction at 14, the loving parents who kicked them out, the older men who abused their trust – and the happiness they eventually found.

How do they know those older “men” were actually “men”? Is they the only person who gets to be special in this story?

Feel Good is a disarmingly autobiographical love story. It tells the story of a character called Mae struggling with relationships, addiction, identity and life on the comedy circuit. Mae is attracted to men and women, but to women more, particularly women who identify as straight. The first series focuses on Mae’s relationship with Georgina, a teacher who had previously only slept with men and is reluctant to admit to her super-straight, super-posh friends that she and Mae are living together. Mae is a mix of streetwise and naive – reckless, precocious, promiscuous, self-absorbed and a bag of nerves.

I’m not clear on what “disarmingly autobiographical” is supposed to mean. What’s disarming about autobiography? Self-obsession is all too common and I can’t say I ever find it disarming. Tiresome and irritating is more like it.

By the end of series two both characters have evolved. George is happy with her bisexuality, while Mae changes from she to they, announcing: “I think I’m transgender or non-binary or whatever the term is these days.”

The term is “more interesting than everyone else.” You think you’re special and more interesting, and these days that translates to something under the “trans umbrella.”

It’s not surprising people react like this when you write and star in a TV series using your real name and telling a version of your life story. But this is where things start to get complicated. As Martin reminds me, it is a fictionalised version. So whereas in Feel Good, Mae talks about being trans or non-binary, Martin is non-binary but not trans.

Ohhhhhhhh. Thank god we cleared that up. How creative of they to make their character so different from theirself.

The Canadian standup thinks of Feel Good as a dramatised version of life 10 to 15 years ago. But while the addiction at the heart of the story goes back that far, the decision to identify as they rather than she is recent.

Better advertising, innit.

13 Responses to “A they and her self”