Published on June 4th, 2012 | by Dan Barrett0
Hit & Miss
Writer and Creator of the excellent ‘State of Play’ and ‘Shameless’ Paul Abbott has launched a new UK drama ‘Hit & Miss’, a series about a transexual hitwoman who discovers she fathered a child earlier in life and now must take responsibility for the child and his siblings after their mother dies. It’s a premise that practically begs one to tune in and watch. Once one stops giggling at the premise of a pre-op transexual hitwoman (played by Chloe Sevigny) and actually engages with the show itself, it becomes quickly apparent that this is among the most thoughtful, interesting, and brave series of 2012.
From the opening sequence, Hit & Miss informs the viewer that this is not going to be your traditional, safe drama series. We follow Mia as she shoots to death her prey on top of a building prior to making her calculated exit from the scene. It’s a cold, detached murder (obviously for money) and Mia is clearly a woman who is a professional. As Mia returns home, we witness an equally cold examination of Mia’s physicality as she sheds the clothing of the assassin, removing item by item as we view the body of a fit, able-bodied woman. It’s only as she enters the shower that we bare witness to her male genitalia. It’s a stark and confronting moment that sets the tone for what is to be a very interesting character study.
Upon finding out by way of a letter that she is to take care of the family of a former girlfriend (including the son that Mia had fathered), Mia travels to their shabby, rented home in rural England where she awkwardly introduces herself to the group of children now in her charge. Leading the group you have Riley, a 16 year-old who has taken on the matriach role in the household and has been sleeping with the owner of the house in exchange for free rent. Her brother Levi is 15 and stuck between boyhood and manhood. Next is Mia’s biological son Ryan, a boy who is struggling to find a place in the world with the absence of his mother while also struggling with the torment of a bully. And rounding out the group is the youngest, Leonie.
The series has been criticised by some for not providing Mia with an actual motivation. It may simply be that those critics were not paying enough attention. Her motivation is very clear clear and is the same motivating force that drives drives all of the primary characters within the series, as well as the general narrative. Hit & Miss is about the quest for identity. Mia, a transexual, has felt the absence of a correct identity for her entire life. She feels she was born as the wrong gender and is now midway through correcting that physical injustice. As someone who has felt isolated for much of her life, being charged with looking after the kids has given her a sense of belonging and sense of self – even if she doesn’t feel comfortable with this role entirely, nor do the kids really want her there.
Similarly, each of the children are striving to find that same sense of identity. Riley, who has looked after the family since their mother fell ill, has now found herself lost without a sense of identity with Mia now taking responsibility. Brothers Levi and Ryan are each finding a sexual identity as each of them experience different aspects of puberty. Ryan, an insular child at the best of times, is left even more confused by the physicality of his father who looks like a woman.
A question looms over the series as to whether the choices and sense of self that each character is exploring and adopting is ultimately for the best. While all of the key characters have found renewed security as a direct result of Mia entering their lives, is it corrupting their spirit? Mia’s isolation and employment as an assassin brings with it a dark violence to the household. As episode one closes with an act of extreme violence perpetrated upon a landlord and his bully son, it is evident that a sense of justice has been done, but achieved in a nasty and unconscionable manner.
Hit & Miss comes to display what a great TV drama can be. No character is left without a sense of intent. The performances are all stellar and the production design feels apt. Sevigny’s prosthesis is a little too fake looking at times, which should be inconsequential, but it is also interestingly the focus of so much of this production. Thankfully, it is the only part of Hit & Miss that feels fake. There is little need for this series to continue beyond one season, but as a short one and done series, this looks to be practically note perfect.