Big Sky star Jesse James Keitel says season 1 "teetered on some dangerous tropes"

·3-min read
Photo credit: Kharen Hill - ABC
Photo credit: Kharen Hill - ABC

Big Sky actor Jesse James Keitel has explained why they think the debut season "teetered on some dangerous tropes".

Sitting down for an exclusive chat with Digital Spy, the 28-year-old, who portrays sex worker Jerrie Kennedy in the crime thriller, explained that they thought the show took some "careful navigating" to tell Jerrie's story.

"I think especially early on in the show when you first meet Jerrie, I think it did teeter on some dangerous tropes. That took some careful navigating," Jesse told us.

"How often do we see trans people represented as sex workers?

Photo credit: Kharen Hill - ABC
Photo credit: Kharen Hill - ABC

Related: Big Sky confirms two stars won't be returning for season 2

"While, sure, there may be trans sex workers, there are also doctors. There are also teachers. There are also parents. There are also baristas. There are so many types of trans people who aren't sex workers," they continued.

"Not to say that that's not a respectable profession. Sex work is work. And girl, do what you've got to do. But I wish the show had acknowledged why a character like Jerrie was a sex worker at a truck stop? What was the emotional... the social cost of being trans in Montana in 2020? What led to Jerrie being kicked out of her home at 14?"

Luckily, Big Sky "really redeemed itself" in Jesse's eyes, with the star adding: "I think where the show really redeemed itself after showing that she was a sex worker was before you even knew she was a sex worker. You know she had hopes and dreams.

"You knew she had people who cared about her. You know she had friends. She had a home. And they didn't fall into the 'man in a dress' trope from 1992," they continued.

"I think how they did it correct was by casting me. That's not coming from a place of ego. I'm saying, authentic casting is the best casting. Authentic casting is a great way to mitigate those tropes."

Photo credit: Darko SIlkman - ABC
Photo credit: Darko SIlkman - ABC

Related: Big Sky season 2 adds Walking Dead: World Beyond and Sopranos stars to cast

"But, yeah, I was terrified," Jesse added. "I was a scared, little kid. I've had some roles here and there in TV and film, but this was my first major role. And I didn't know if I was going to be taken care of.

"I felt a little bit like a wounded dog at first. Any time there was anything that scared me, I felt myself having to ask myself why. And so often, I was just terrified of being the face of transphobia on television.

"So even if they didn't go that route with anything they had written or anything they had produced or directed, I was scared that the next episode would have it, or the next one would have it, or that I would face some kind of harsh conservative backlash when the show came out.

"And the majority of my concerns were fabricated in my head," Jesse continued. "It's easy to talk yourself into a downward spiral of 'What the f**k is going to happen?'"

Big Sky season 2 will premiere on September 30 at 10pm on ABC, and will be available soon after on Star on Disney+ in other territories, including the UK.

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