Clarice Adds Trans Character To Address Buffalo Bill’s Complicated Legacy

CBS’s upcoming Clarice adds Jen Richards as a trans character designed to address the complicated legacy of Buffalo Bill. Thomas Harris’ literary characters have received great attention over the years in projects like Hannibal, Red Dragon, and, most famously, The Silence of the Lambs. Now Harris’ heroine, Clarice Starling, will once again step into the spotlight for a new CBS procedural. Starring Rebecca Breeds as the iconic FBI agent, Clarice is set a year after the events of The Silence of the Lambs and will follow Starling as she steps back into the public eye and takes on more noteworthy cases.

Clarice is a project distinctly separate from The Silence of the Lambs, yet the well-known 1991 movie will still be felt. Though Hannibal Lecter won’t make an appearance in Clarice, the series will watch Starling come to terms with the trauma she experienced while confronting Buffalo Bill. The controversial serial killer from The Silence of the Lambs won’t be in Clarice either, but early promotional materials have already referenced him in a critical way. This has stirred up fresh conversations about Buffalo Bill’s characterization and how, as someone who preys on women while apparently wanting to be a woman, enables terrible transgender stereotypes.

Related: Clarice: Why Hannibal Lecter Won’t Appear In The CBS Show

The creators behind Clarice have seemingly gone into the project very much aware of this negative depiction and are already taking steps to rectify it. According to Variety, trans activist and actress Jen Richards has joined the cast of Clarice after first being asked to consult on the series. Of her character, Richards said, “All I can say is that the character intersects with Clarice’s storyline in a way that her transness isn’t central to her storyline, but her identity as a trans woman prompts her to discuss with Clarice the complicated legacy of Buffalo Bill.”

Richards discussed how, when she was approaching her own transition, the Buffalo Bill figure proved to be harmful. For some time, when people thought of the transgender community, they thought of him, an “incredibly monstrous person who literally steals the female form and tries to embody it.” However, Richards is pleased the Clarice writing team is making an effort to “address the complicated, horrible legacy in a way that didn’t reduce it to that one issue,” while also featuring a “trans character that was part of the story but didn’t reduce it to a stereotype.”

Though representation has made great strides over the years, there is still much work to be done, particularly when it comes to transgender characters and actors. The past year alone has seen a larger discussion emerge about the painful and incorrect stereotypes that surround the trans community, partially spurred by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s latest novel and comments perpetuating them. That Clarice is trying to offer a more positive response to past mistakes is a good sign, and one that can do much in moving things forward for trans rep. Hopefully, this can lead to more positive changes in the future so that Buffalo Bill will remain a thing of the past.

More: CBS’ Clarice Needs To Avoid The Criminal Minds Formula To Be Successful

Clarice premieres February 11 on CBS.

Source: Variety

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