Leo (Harry Hepple) is a young man in his mid-20s who isn’t exactly good at romance and dating. Then he meets Judy (Rebecca Root) and there’s an immediate spark, so he decides to invite her out on a date. Once they’re at a restaurant she lets him know that she is transgender, something Leo doesn’t seem too bothered about (although it does cause a few ripples later on).
They both know that while neither of them care, the same won’t necessarily be true of everyone, and they may also have a few other obstacles to overcome on the way to true love. However, the thing that most people want to comment on when they initially see Judy is the age gap between her and Leo, as she is nearing 40.
Across the course of six episodes Boy Meets Girl charts their relationship, as they negotiate the issues of transgender dating, from when to tell his family, to dealing with sex, as well as the viciousness of transphobic people.
Watching Boy Meets Girl there are echoes of what gay-themed entertainment was like 15 or 20 years ago, when there was a sense of it needing to completely centre around the character’s sexuality, almost being a primer to the issues involved. It’s sad that even in 2015 transgender issues are still dealt with so little on screen, that when a show puts a transgender character right in the centre, it feels almost like a course for the unenlightened into the lives of trans* people.
To be honest though, it’s probably the best approach, as this is one of the BBC’s first attempts to make a mainstream comedy about trans* people (at least where they’re not the joke), and there are undoubtedly a huge amount of people out there who could do with a bit of an education, but it’s unfortunate we’ve reached the second decade of the 21st Century and things still need to be dealt with in this way.
Likewise, the fact a transgender woman play Judy feels far more exceptional than it ought to, simply because we’re so used to cisgender actors being cast in trans* roles. The fact is, it is still unusual, but it allows the talented Rebecca Root to bring an extra level of authenticity to the role.
However, the show wouldn’t work if it solely felt like six 30-minute lectures on transgender issues and what you should and shouldn’t do around trans* people. Luckily Boy Meets Girl ensures that there’s plenty of humour and a few really good laughs. Judy and Leo are a genuinely sweet couple, while their eccentric families help add to the entertainment value.
The show manages the trick of ensuring the particular issues that Leo and Judy face are pushed to the fore, while making them feel organic and honest, ensuring that at all times the connection between them seems real. At the end of the first episode Leo says he thinks Judy is ‘the one’, and across the six episodes it never wavers from making you feel that he’s right.
The age gap is also a smart inclusion, at it gives viewers a difference everyone can understand that is undercut by the strength of what the couple have, which then feeds through to a difference many viewers may be less familiar with and may have preconceived notions about.
Boy Meets Girl is an extremely entertaining and often very funny show, with a host of eccentric and humorous characters, and a genuinely sweet romance at its core. Hopefully we’ll get a second series, as it would be interesting to see where things go next, and whether, now it’s dealt with all the basics of dating a transgender woman, what other areas it can open up into.
Overall Verdict: Boy Meets World is a funny, sweet sitcom that’s well worth a watch. There may be moments where it feels like you’re getting lessons in transgender dating, but with a great romance and plenty of comedy, it feels like lessons that are worth having.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac