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Does Sit Down, Shut Up Have a Trans Character?

By GLAAD |
April 21, 2009

I know I'm a couple of days behind on my TV watching duties (Come on! It was the Media Awards this weekend! Give a girl a break!) but I just finished Fox's pilot episode of the animated comedy Sit Down, Shut Up, and I do believe there might be a transgender librarian working at Knob Haven High.

Helen

Now, I'm not 100% certain that glaadBLOG can officially begin counting the character as transgender. (The only evidence of the possibility is that she is taking hormone pills.) However, if she is indeed transgender, Helen Klench (voiced by Cheri Oteri) isn't your typical television transwoman. She's no Carmelita on Dirty Sexy Money or Alexis on Ugly Betty. She lacks cascading blonde hair and endless sex appeal.

But be forewarned: just because she's atypical doesn't make her a character to applaud. Helen is a harsh woman, with bushy eyebrows and an aggressive demeanor. When she goes off her meds, she suddenly develops a love for digging holes and a talent for tackling football players. (In other words, she begins to show many stereotypically-male characteristics. Ugh.)

Andrew

The show also gets no points for its portrayal of its bisexual drama teacher, Andrew LeGustambos (Nick Kroll) who poses and lisps and endlessly craves the comforts of two teachers -- one male, one female -- and fantasizes about having them meld into one body. (Yeah, because that's what bisexuality means.)

On the surface, Sit Down, Shut Up is potentially a forward-thinking comedy, in that it's a show about teachers, and two of them are LGBT. Normally, I'd be singing the praises of a series daring to be so inclusive. But after watching the first half hour, I must say I'm disappointed with the way these two are portrayed.

What will the second episode bring? More mincing from Andrew and aggression from Helen? Or will viewers begin to see the characters more fully-formed? Check back next week to see if Sit Down, Shut Up makes the grade.

(And no, I couldn't resist that pun.)

Sit Down, Shut Up airs Sundays on Fox at 8:30/7:30c.