With images of Georgia guy Dennis Croft in tighty whiteys, pumping iron and holding his prosthetic penis as he takes a piss, “Small Town Security” shows that when reality TV gets it right, it can be smart, powerful and cringe-inducing all at once.
The new AMC series is the tale of a family-owned JLK Security in small town, rural South otherwise known as Ringgold, Ga. The show premiered in July and quickly hyped one of its flashpoints – the story of Lt. Dennis Croft. At 40, Croft came out as a male trapped inside a female’s body and started to transition from female to male.
The July 15 premiere included a segment about Croft’s difficult but touching coming out process, even as boss lady and show matriarch Joan Koplan leaned on the story to offer a bit of sensationalism for return to Ringgold’s public access TV channel.
The show pressed on. With its second episode, “Small Town Security” provided the most compelling clip of life as a trans man in small town America that I’ve ever seen on a reaity TV show. No heels, no purse, no stereotypical flamboyance. And the show took such a matter-of-fact approach, skipping past what could have turned into typical TV sensationalism and instead offering a realistic glimpse (watch video above).
“Living as a man, I am living in the right place. I am who I am and I don’t care what the fuck anyone thinks,” Croft says.
The part that makes you grimace? Koplan’s refusal to embrace the correct pronoun for Croft. The rest of the office gets it; Koplan stubbornly resists and Croft offers her a sort of pass. It’s real, it’s tough and it’s surprising that the show handles it so well.