These 11 dudes are in for complete feminine makeovers and have to act like ladies on public excursions, but with a lot of assistance from trainers, who teach them how to walk, talk, dress and apply makeup like women. The winner gets to take home a quarter of a million dollars.
"I feel prettier than a wet dog in a rainstorm," says one contestant as he tries on a dress and wig for the first time.
During the competition, the men live together in the TBS "Doll House," a truly breathtakingly tacky space. It looks as if somebody's dog ate and then regurgitated lots of red, purple and pink crayons. Inside the house, they can live as men. The minute they step outside, they must pretend to be women.
They do their best to play it like Jack Lemmon did in "Some Like It Hot." But let's face it: Lemmon was an extremely talented comedian, and these guys aren't. Most of their locker-room humor falls flat, merely betraying how exceedingly uncomfortable they are.
But something changes towards the end of episode two. It happens when the "ladies," who've been winnowed down to seven at this point, are out for a "night on the town" at a Los Angeles bowling alley. Two of the brawnier guys go to the bathroom. Standing at the sink in full drag, each helps the other freshen lipstick and eye shadow. And they offer encouragement to each other. Suddenly, the butch-guy act is gone, and their feminine sides show through. It's actually touching.
Drag is a word you won't hear on "He's a Lady." The producers were eager not to offend the transgendered community, so they consulted closely with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. While "He's a Lady" can hardly be called politically correct, it's probably not as clumsy as it might have been without advice from GLAD.
There are still serious problems with the show, from the premise to the execution. It helps not a whit that Morgan Fairchild, looking as if she applies her own makeup with a trowel, is one of the three judges.
But it's interesting to watch these dudes begin to understand what the other half faces every day. You know there's hope when one of them tosses his little black dress on his hot-pink bed and says: "You know, it's exhausting being a woman." S
"He's a Lady" airs Tuesday nights at 10:05 on TBS.
Speaking of "Some Like it Hot," the 1959 movie's star, Tony Curtis, will be speaking at the Byrd Theater Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. with a screening of the movie to follow at 9 p.m. The event is free, call 545-8582 for reservations.
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