After Scarlett Johansson Controversy, 'Rub & Tug' to Become TV Show with Trans Lead, Writer

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Friday July 24, 2020

Our Lady J
Our Lady J  (Source:Facebook)

Entertainment Weekly reports that Our Lady J, "a trans television writer who worked on FX's 'Pose' and Amazon's 'Transparent,'" will write the pilot episode for the new series "Rub & Tug."

Initially, "Rub & Tug" was to be made a film in 2018, with the announcement of Scarlett Johansson playing trans character Dante "Tex" Gill generating controversy. Responding to the critics, Johansson was at first dismissive, issuing a statement through her representative: "Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman's reps for comment."

Shortly afterward, Johansson withdrew from the project, citing "ethical questions raised surrounding my casting" and that her initial reaction was "insensitive." Then, in November 2019, issued a further mea culpa in Vanity Fair:

"In hindsight, I mishandled that situation. I was not sensitive, my initial reaction to it. I wasn't totally aware of how the trans community felt about those three actors playing — and how they felt in general about cis actors playing — transgender people."

"I wasn't aware of that conversation — I was uneducated. So I learned a lot through that process. I misjudged that... It was a hard time. It was like a whirlwind. I felt terribly about it. To feel like you're kind of tone-deaf to something is not a good feeling."

While casting decisions have not been announced yet, the team behind the series "is committed to casting a trans actor as the show's lead."

As Entertainment Weekly reports:

The show will focus on Tex, a trans man, and his inner circle, many of whom were forced to fringes of society as LGBTQ individuals. He used to run a string of massage parlors as fronts for prostitution, and "Rub & Tug" will delve into this "illicit business empire" as Tex defends his turf from rival criminals, corrupt politicians, and the law, according to a description.

Development of the series was kept under wraps until recently. Cindy Bruno Gill, a consultant for the show, said:

"I am excited to be working with Our Lady J and New Regency to honor Tex's memory by telling his story the way he would want to be remembered. Tex was transgender at a time when being transgender meant facing great discrimination, yet he was fearless about being himself in a way that inspired those who knew him to be proud of who they were too. Our Lady J is the perfect person to give voice to Tex's story, and I know he would be proud of the evolution of this project."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.