It’s been 30 years since The Silence of the Lambs was released and created a sensation. The following year, it swept the five major categories at the 1992 Academy Awards while queer activists protested in droves outside the venue over its depiction of its serial killer Buffalo Bill/Jame Gumb. Now the CBS series Clarice us about to introduce a storyline featuring trans actress Jen Richards (also a consultant on the show) to counter and reframe the dangerous narrative that painted Buffalo Bill as “transsexual,” although “not a real transsexual,” Anthony Hopkins’s Hannibal Lecter tells Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling in the film. Richards (Mrs. Fletcher, Better Things, Tales of the City) first appears on the May 13 episode of Clarice, but the first teaser is out now.
Without giving too much away, Richards plays Julia Lawson, an accountant with information that could aid Clarice and the FBI in cracking a big case. Helping Clarice (Rebecca Breeds) means taking some big risks with her job and safety. But it also puts her face-to-face with the agent who helped perpetuate the trope of the murderous transsexual (one that notably appeared on film with Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho). With Richards and trans writer Eleanor Jean on board, the story, which occurs in the ’90s not long after Clarice has finished the Buffalo Bill case, gives voice to trans people who were left out of the discussion 30 years ago.
Watch the teaser for Clarice below. And look out for The Advocate’s interview with Richards coming soon.