Trans Beauty Jesse James Keitel Is Amazing in ABC's 'Big Sky'

One Writer

And she's stealing the show.

Image by Abhay Bharadwaj from Pixabay

ABC's Hit Drama Big Sky Is making History with the Casting of a Non-Binary Actor in a Major Role

I may be obsessed with Jesse James Keitel. It’s been a long time since I have seen a new actor or actress that just took my breath away on screen and Jesse certainly did that in her breakout, groundbreaking role in ABC’s new hit show Big Sky which wrapped up its first season this week. If you haven’t heard of her before. You certainly will take notice of her now. Her character is nothing short of riveting on-screen.

Keitel was a bit concerned about taking the role according to NBC newsWho was among many news stations and affiliates across the country (including a Men’s Health feature) that praised ABC for bringing this non-binary actor to Prime time television. Keitel was able to take some creative direction and have some influence over the accurate representation of her character. The LGBTQIA+ community has been underrepresented and grossly misrepresented across all genres of television and movies. Is wonderful to see this actress portraying a role that doesn’t get killed off right away and also is given screen time to tell a heart-wrenching story with such authenticity that it is truly touching the hearts of many fans of the show.

Keitel's lead role as Jerrie Kennedy Is the first time a non-binary actor has been given a lead role on prime time television, playing a non-binary character. (Source.) If I’m honest, this is not my story to tell. As a cisgender, heterosexual woman, I cannot attest to the accuracy or betrayal of this character, or how it affects the LGBTQIA+ community. All I can say is that I freaking loved the character. I found myself tuning in each week to see the new episodes of big sky, half for the gripping drama, and half because I wanted to see more of Jerrie Kennedy’s story play out on screen. I simply could not take my eyes off of Keitel in this role. I found her portrayal of the character to be absorbing, well-acted, and simply beautiful to watch. Though the characters' story is complex, intense, and emotional, you cannot help but to connect to the honesty of the character.

ABC’s Big Sky is based on the novel The Highway By C.J. Box, and Brought to the screen by David E. Kelley. The show was originally meant to be 10 episodes long for season one, but ABC ordered another six episodes, which is promising for fans of the show, hoping for a second season.

Jesse James Keitel plays a non-binary musician and sex worker who is abducted from a truck stop and held captive along with two teenage girls. Her story is central to the mystery and thrilling pace of Big Sky, which features some big names and some new faces. The cast includes John Carroll Lynch as Rick Legarski, a deviant State trooper who's up to his knees in trouble when his partner and cohort Ronald Pergman, played by actor Brian Geraghty, kidnaps the two teenage girls and brings entirely too much attention to their evil schemes of kidnapping transient women.

Two female lead investigators (played by Dedee Pfeiffer and Kylie Bunbury) are determined to find the missing girls, in spite of a rival, of sorts, between them. Several side stories are going on as the larger mystery plays out in season one and all of those side stories are interesting and keeps fans coming back each week for more. The bad guys are really bad and the good guys are just as complicated and complex as good plot lines and character development would have them to be. Ronald Bergman’s mother is especially disturbing, played brilliantly by Valerie Mahaffey.

Despite all the drama and suspense, Keitel’s character dominates her scenes. Fans are attracted to how magnetic and gripping her portrayal of her character is, and her fluid, mesmerizing voice. She’s a gem in this show which alone makes it worth the time to watch.

As a writer. It is sometimes difficult to watch television with really predictable plot twists, but this particular story made me forget I was a writer and just sit back and enjoy each episode. Definitely, in my opinion, a “binge-worthy” show. The drama is as thick as the mystery, all wrapped in the haunting-yet-majestic scenery of Vancouver Canada where the series was actually filmed. The story is set in Montana and the actual location was remote and beautiful enough to carry the story well enough. The original choice for filming was in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Las Vegas, Nevada but was later changed due to Covid

Kudos to ABC for taking this historical step in television. Accurate portrayal of these types of roles to be more representative of the LGBTQIA+ community is so important. We cannot normalize what we never see. People who have negative opinions about other people (whose lives they simply don’t understand) cannot compare their own biased experiences or lack thereof, to what is actually true. In other words, you can’t understand something authentically without ever having experienced it. Television is a part of the fabric of this country. Bringing accurate characters to the screen can help to open up conversations, perhaps even change a few perspectives.

Keitel hopes that her role can help to change things, and I hope that as well. I applaud her performance in this television series, and hope to see her return again in a season 2 for this thrilling show. Perhaps if fans want it bad enough, ABC will deliver? As of today, December 16, the decision has yet to be made.

Fans are already asking if big sky will be canceled after a first season, or if it will be renewed for season two. As of December 17, the decision has yet to be made.

According to the official Twitter page for Big Sky, the “drama continues on January 26th on ABC'' and encourages fans to catch up on Hulu. Which is great, because the winter finale left fans in a cliffhanger.

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