‘Land of Women’ Is Must-Watch Fun TV — Especially for Gay Trans Girls

The first time I ever saw a trans woman on-screen was in Spanish auteur Pedro Almodóvar’s All About My Mother. The best show about trans women I’ve ever seen was Spain’s Veneno. I’ve never been to Spain and yet through their media I’ve long seen portraits of trans life far superior to most of what was — and is — allowed in American media. And so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that the new Apple TV series, Land of Women, a Spain/U.S. co-production includes a trans character and does it better than almost any other non-trans specific show.

Land of Women is about Gala (Eva Longoria) a Mexican American woman whose life as the new owner of a wine shop is disrupted when her husband disappears and a pair of gangsters show up telling her he owes their boss fifteen million dollars. Desperate, she straps some cash to her body, picks up her daughter Kate (Victoria Bazua) from art school and her mom Julia (Carmen Maura) from a nursing home, and whisks them away to hide in the small Spanish town where her mother was raised and abruptly left.

Formerly the town slut, Julia is not welcomed back warmly. And, given her entitlement and strong personality, neither is Gala. Upon their arrival, Gala crashes into very handsome vineyard owner Amat (Santiago Cabrera) and the grape seeds of a sexy enemies-to-lovers are sewn.

Between its crime plot, its save the vineyard plot, Julia reckoning with her past, Gala’s romance, Gala’s mysterious paternity, the show is a delicious mix of stories and tones. But as sexy as Longoria and Cabrera are together — even when most of what they do is fight — it was Kate’s storylines that, unsurprisingly, moved me the most.

During the first episode, Kate’s transness is not mentioned. We learn she goes to art school and that she has a girlfriend who Gala dislikes. Gala insists it has nothing to do with her daughter being into girls, but life and media have taught us to assume otherwise.

Then, in the second episode, before we learn of Kate’s transness, she gets flustered in a meet cute with a lesbian mechanic. This allowance of a trans girl, first and foremost, to have lesbian storylines is unprecedented. And, when we do learn of Kate’s transness, it often holds equal weight to her queerness.

In flashback, we see the meeting of her parents and her girlfriend’s parents and learn Gala’s distaste for the girlfriend is not due to her own bigotry but, rather, the bigotry of the other parents. And that the girlfriend hasn’t told them Kate is trans. They’re still struggling with their daughter’s queerness thinking Kate is cis — it’s somewhat understandable that this teen girl wouldn’t want to complicate things further. But, for Gala, that’s no excuse.

Kate’s dad reminisces with Kate about her coming out and how it took him time to adjust but Gala was immediately on board. Gala may annoy Kate, but it’s never about Kate’s transness nor her sexuality.

The bond between Kate and her grandmother is even more poignant. In flashbacks to her youth, we see Julia when she was Kate’s age. We learn she’s always been confident and free-spirited and, therefore, othered. When Kate does face transphobia — portrayed truthfully without dwelling on the trauma — Julia comforts her by insisting their family has always been different and that’s good. To hear these words spoken by Carmen Maura, one of Almodóvar’s earliest collaborators, deepens it further. It’s not only an intergenerational bond within this family, but an intergenerational bond between moments in queer media.

And yet, neither the lesbian representation nor the loving family dynamics landed as my favorite trans subplot of the series. It was the simple inclusion of Kate running low on her hormones while traveling internationally. While various state governments try to ban any trans healthcare of people Kate’s age, even at 30 receiving a regular stock of my hormones — through legal means — is often fraught. Even though no one is ODing on estradiol, I’m allowed only one month at a time. When I spend time out of the country, I need to fight for special prescriptions and even then pay out of pocket since insurance won’t cover it. As someone who spends a lot of time in Canada, I’ve even had to see a Canadian doctor — and, again, pay out of pocket.

While the moment of overt transphobia is handled well, this more bureaucratic transphobia is even more important to see. Newcomer Victoria Bazua is fantastic as Kate throughout the season, but it’s these quiet moments where she feels without any options as her pill bottle dwindles that truly broke my heart. It also shows that as supportive as her mother may be, even she was not thinking about this detail when she decided to hide in Spain — to be fair she is a bit preoccupied with the gangsters.

There are a lot of characters and a lot of storylines for only six episodes, and Kate’s threads separate from her family get a bit lost or rushed in the back half. But it’s hard to complain when she’s still very present amid the farcical action and the gorgeous Spanish scenery.

True to its genre, this first season ends with multiple cliffhangers. In a TV landscape with dwindling queer and trans characters, I hope Land of Women comes back for more episodes so we can learn what happens next and spend more time with these characters. This series has everything I could ever want from fun TV. A gay trans girl and Carmen Maura as a slutty grandma? Is Eva Longoria personally thanking me for secretly choosing her as my favorite desperate housewife back in 2004?

The first two episodes of Land of Women are now streaming on Apple TV.

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Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 564 articles for us.


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