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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Transcendent Finale Recap: Tears, Big Freedia, and a Sweet Coming-Out

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 6:35 PM


The first(?) season of Fuse's Transcendent ended with a simple, three-part structure centered on S.F. Pride, at which the ladies performed as a group and as backup twerkers for Big Freedia.

But before any of that, the acid-tongued, take-no-prisoners Bionka has a pizza lunch with Ms. Josie, her grandmother, a stern-yet-smiling, gray-haired, church-going woman in a pearl necklace.

“You’re looking good,” she says, more in approval than a compliment of Bionka’s appearance.

They seem not to have talked for decades, because Bionka tells Ms. Josie about her elementary school torment, causing the latter’s eyes to bug out in sympathy.

“That just really grieves my spirit, that you went through all of that,” Ms. Josie says. “I might not understand it, but I love you. God loves you, and I will always be there for you, and I’m 100 years old here.”

And thereupon we see Bionka cry on camera, the first to do so.

The scene cuts to Pride, where the ladies work a connection to dance with Big Freedia, who smooches everyone in a black leather jacket and red ombre. Bionka and Bambiana toss any lingering bad blood to the wayside, and it’s a nice moment of harmony (and great exposure, too.) For her part, Xristina is just overjoyed.

As usual, Bambiana gets the best lines: “I can’t twerk. I can show you my tittes, though,” and “I can’t twerk. I shake my chi-chis.”

The scene has a valedictory tone, including great shot of a muscly hunk holding an ornate mirror up to Xristina to gaze into her own reflection onstage. There’s another AsiaSF performer named Tita — where have you been all season? — and because it’s L.A.’s first Pride as a transwoman, she decides the time is right for a big decision.

She visits Bambiana at the salon to declare her intention to come out as trans to her father. (Incidentally, L.A.’s promised second audition at AsiaSF never seems to have happened, or else she flubbed that one, too. She’s still referred to as “Nya’s friend” until the last scene.”) Looking for comfort, L.A. gets a splash of cold water, although after doling out some tough love, Bambi notes that “your dad has seen you like this.”

(Bambi also calls it “no moco de pavo,” which translates to “it’s not turkey spit” but means “it’s no small feat.”)

As is the case for a lot of LGBT people, L.A.’s relationship with her father is cordial but not particularly tight. Especially because she has a thickheaded dad who can see his daughter in full makeup and a dress and still consider her his gay son without having to have it all spelled out.

“It’s fine for me, anything. You’re very independent, and that’s good … Whatever you like, do it for yourself.”

Well, no wonder L.A. wasn’t a big character in Transcendent; there were never going to be sparks. We’re left with the moral dilemma of the prurient television consumer, who craves maximum entertainment through onscreen drama but manages to retain a sliver of our former humanity and be happy for a nervous transwoman who comes out to her dad only to have him come out (as it were) as a kind, enlightened parent whose only concern is for his daughter’s wellbeing. For all the petty in-fighting and trumped-up drama, we have a denouement that’s almost Jane Austen-esque in its happily-ever-after-ness. Unless, that is, there’s a second season.

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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.


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