A fairly groundbreaking independent drama with a straightforward story yet complex premise, Boy Meets Girl (2014, dir. Eric Schaeffer) is one of very few films with a transgender protagonist who is played by an actual trans woman. The film tells the story of Ricky (Michelle Hendley), a barista-slash-seamstress who operates a popular Youtube channel, with a dream of attending university for fashion design. When beautiful debutante Francesca (Alexandra Turshen) wanders into Ricky’s cafe thinking it’s a Starbucks, the two strike up a friendship and perhaps something more. With Ricky’s childhood friend Robby (Michael Welch) beside her, Ricky must confront the complexities of her gender identity and sexuality when it comes to her relationships with others who may be more confused than she is, as the views of her small town become louder and louder.
Transgender people and transgender issues have been receiving a lot of media attention lately, with celebrities such as Laverne Cox and Caitlyn Jenner being amazing advocates, finally giving trans people a louder voice in popular media. Films like Boy Meets Girl have the potential to educate people about trans issues, and also to show people who might not have too much understanding about the issue that people who don’t identify with their gender assigned at birth can have relationship dramas like any old cisgendered individual. This film works towards normalising the issue, and it’s been described as a ‘sex positive’ drama, which I fully agree with. Ricky’s story isn’t hyped up to the point where her gender identity is the crux of the whole story. We see Ricky as a fully formed person who is comfortable with her identity – it’s the small town minds that get louder towards the climax of the film that have a problem with her.
I have to say, I did not have very high expectations for this film. I was expecting a silly drama, but I was surprised and pleased to find that although the drama was slightly silly (with a Dawson’s Creek-esque scenario where everyone sleeps with everyone else), this silliness was underpinned by a seriousness and eager intent to let people know more about what it’s like to be a trans person in today’s day and age. There’s nothing really special about the creative aspects of the film, but it’s just fun to see the relationship dramas play out on screen with fairly standard direction. Michelle Hendley’s performance as Ricky was a particular highlight however. At times her acting does feel a bit amateurish, but she’s always charming and fun. It’s during the film’s emotionally raw moments that she really shines, particularly during one very vulnerable moment towards the end.
In a world where people who identify as trans are finally having a louder voice in the media, films like Boy Meets Girl are highly necessary. Boy Meets Girl is a fluffy, typical romantic drama with humorous moments, but it’s the film’s point of view that is really special. It is a shame that the story is standard to the point of feeling like a typical teenage television drama, but at the same time it’s refreshing to see a trans person included in a story like that. Boy Meets Girl feels groundbreaking even if the story isn’t. Definitely worth a watch.
Watch the trailer here.