Back at the start of July the fourth episode of Doubt’s debut season, Clean Burn, aired to little fanfare and was watched by just 1.62 million viewers. But in the middle of the episode was a scene that could have far-reaching repercussions, as it was the first to feature three trans characters, being played by trans actresses, in a scene that featured no cis people.
The scene itself was relatively rudimentary, as it revolved around defense attorney Cameron Wirth (Laverne Cox) meeting up with her friends to discuss their love lives over lunch. While Amazon’s Transparent has included numerous scenes with plenty of trans women, they’ve always featured the character of Maura Pfefferman, who is portrayed by cis actor Jeffrey Tambor.
In one single moment Doubt managed to make this breakthrough. However, the scene was very close to never making it to air. Back in February, Doubt was actually canceled after just two episodes. Rather than leaving the remaining 11 episodes, each of which had already been shot, to rot away unwatched, CBS decided to air them this summer.
But while the episode itself was written by Johnny Norris, actress Laverne Cox was instrumental in making sure the above scene was included in Clean Burn. During an early brainstorming session for Doubt that was held in June, 2016, Laverne Cox told the writers room that even though Cameron Wirth wasn’t working alongside trans people, it would be a disservice to the character if the show didn’t show how influential her trans friends were in her social life.
“They asked me what I thought. I talked about the role my girlfriends played in my life and how I thought it would be a disservice to see Cameron cut off from community. I pitched Cameron having some trans girlfriends she would get together with to talk about her life. My showrunners, Joan Rater and Tony Phelan, loved it. And, voilà,” Cox recalled to Vulture.
Laverne Cox hopes this one little scene will lead to countless more opportunities for trans actresses, not just Jen Richards and Angelica Ross, who were hired to play McKayla and Valentina. Doubt’s series finale will air on August 12, but, because of the inclusion of this groundbreaking scene, its impact will hopefully reverberate for much, much longer.