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 her 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 reality 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.