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Entertainment TV & Media Z on TV

Want something different on TV? How about a family drama with a transgendered contract killer?

More and more these days, it seems as if the most interesting TV projects are coming from new and different places. "House of Cards,"  which Netflix is making in Baltimore, leads the parade. But DirecTV is getting in the game, too, and this week debuts a six-part mini-series about a transgendered contract killer played by Chloe Sevigny ("Big Love," "Boys Don't Cry").

"Hit & Miss," which premieres at 10 p.m. Wednesday on DirecTV's Audience Channel is a British import created by Paul Abbott, who is usually praised for "Shameless"and "State of Play." I like them both, but I love "Cracker" his series about an angry, out of control forensic psychologist played by Robbie Coltrane. Love it for the wise ways in which it explored issue of social class, gender, education and anger.

Gender and anger are the orders of the day in "Hit & Miss" as well. And I think that's where the cultural mojo is in this production.

Folks who were outraged, angered or even sickened by the savage attack on a transgendered woman last year at a McDonald's in Baltimore will find a real satisfaction the first time Sevigny's character, Mia, takes down a bully. And without too much spoiling, let me just say that "take down" is a mild-mild term for what she does to the guy. If you can't handle TV violence, stay away from "Hit & Miss."

There is a debate here, of course, as there always is when TV breaks new ground this way or takes on complicated issues. While some viewers will find empowerment in Mia's acts of violence, others will say they define her as possibly a monster.

Don't ask me to sort it. You pays your money and you takes your choice. I am glad to see the range of characters on prime-time television expand with the addition of Sevigny's Mia. I really am, and I have to be honest, I did find pleasure in her taking down a very nasty guy.

If that's not politically correct, I am sorry. But part of my job is to direct folks to what's new and noteworthy on the tube -- and to try and honestly describe and explain the complicated relationship between TV and our lives. This one fits the bill.

As for "Hit & Miss" as entertainment and drama, that's a bit complicated, too. We first meet Mia in her role as the cold-blooded killer for hire.

She also gets naked quickly in a scene that explores, exploits and illuminates gender in ways I have not seen American TV do.

But then, her past life intrudes in the form of a letter from a former lover with whom she fathered a child before starting the journey to become Mia.

Long story short: via Mia, viewers quickly find themselves enmeshed in a family drama with Mia looking like she is going to be the adult guardian not just for her biological child but also three of his siblings.

Yikes. And the only way she can make enough money to keep the wolf from the door is to keep killing.

It's definitely complicated, and I am sure it is just not going to work for some viewers. But you have to love the dare of creating this kind of family drama for television. No same-old, same-old here, baby.


Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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