Like Clark Kent and Superman or Beyonce and Sasha Fierce, Accused tells the complicated story of a reserved young man with a vivacious alter ego.
Kevin and Robyn share the same body, but their perspectives, demeanor, and even their voices are as different as night and day.
Accused Season 1 Episode 5 was directed by the incomparable Billy Porter, and every scene has his distinct voice. From the sassy quips from Robyn to the moments of insecurity from Kevin, this episode deals directly with issues and stigmas facing the gay community.
The costumes, music, makeup, and performances were phenomenal at the drag club. Robyn was a force to be reckoned with on stage. Her stage presence was superior.
However, she was a different person altogether from her actual identity. Kevin was a teacher, dull by Robyn’s standards. Robyn allowed him to express himself in a way Kevin never could.
When Robyn met Jamie, she thought she knew what kind of man he was. She assumed he was a “chaser,” a closeted man who likes drag queens. And that was only partly right.
Jamie was a broken man. His wife implied it was trauma from being molested as a child. Still, there was also the toxic relationship with his brother, who raised him, and his tumultuous perception of his sexuality.
His family consisted of blind machismo, rooted in pride in their heterosexuality. His misogynistic, homophobic brother raised and taught him the shame of homosexuality.
Jamie lived in fear of disappointing his brother, Mattie. He had seen the level of violence Mattie could exhibit. Jamie had most likely seen the rage his brother held for gay men. And he hid his actual orientation for this reason.
Mattie’s reason for hating gay men was never revealed. There’s no excuse for disdain over an entire group of people, but unfortunately, his linear perspective represents an astonishingly large portion of our country.
As much as Accused tells the perspective of the guilty party, it was a relief they did not justify or validate Mattie’s homophobic behavior. His character was a flat, one-dimensional thread of hate woven into the episode.
The guilty party in this episode was Jamie. And true to its concept, the audience got to see his perspective. For the first time, a man on the down low was vulnerable enough to tell the reasons for his deceptive lifestyle.
We can’t keep doing this. Same fights over and over. You know I love you, but facts are facts.
We saw his propensity for anger and outbursts. He exploded at his wife as years of untreated trauma and guilt over his sexual orientation ate at his mind.
His wife, Natalie, was a seemingly innocent party who became the victim of the culmination of his trauma.
Jamie’s history of trauma doesn’t excuse his actions. He was traumatized, but living in his truth years before deceiving his wife could have saved her life and his.
A moment that spoke volumes and could start the healing process for millions was when Kevin told Jamie that being molested did not make him gay.
Kevin: Who was it Jamie?
Kevin: A family friend, little league coach? Yeah, she told me. but you listen to me! Whatever happened to you didn’t make you gay. That’s not how it works.
Unfortunately, there is a persisting belief in the causal nexus of childhood abuse and sexual orientation. Kevin’s declaration was a bold affront to that ignorant notion.
Accused has brought attention to the importance of mental health regarding criminal actions. Jamie’s aversion to therapy played a part in his progression of violence and, ultimately, in the murder of Natalie.
The charges against Kevin were ludicrous. At no point did his attorney clarify his defense. The last-minute costume change was genius, but unnecessary had he had a competent defense.
And why was Mattie even present at the courthouse? There was something too personal in his hatred for Kevin/Robyn. He personified the persistent hostility of homophobic people.
This episode highlighted the violence and intimidation the LGBTQ community has to endure. Mattie was just the representation of that.
Beating Kevin up in the bathroom was his final act of vengeance for his brother. Mattie believed that Kevin had persuaded his brother into that lifestyle, and he used this belief to fuel his hatred.
His ignorance turned violent, and the bailiff turning a blind eye symbolized how crimes against the LGBTQ community are often overlooked.
Kevin’s response of not reporting it also indicated how common these incidents are in the LGBTQ community.
Kevin’s character was equally as complex. There was so much insecurity in his authentic identity. As Robyn, he spoke about himself in harsh terms.
Jamie: You by yourself here?
Robyn: Just my name on the lease.
Jamie: And what name is that?
Jamie: What’s he like?
Robyn: Dull, but he pays the bills.
He went out of his way to only be dressed as Robyn when Jamie was coming to visit. During their romantic interludes, there seemed to be a fear of being his true self.
Kevin was afraid of rejection. His efforts to hide Kevin and become Robyn were extreme and emotionally taxing.
As Robyn, he wasn’t afraid of anything, but it did not stop his feelings from being involved. Robyn was the shield that protected Kevin from hurt, but his shield was ineffective in this case.
Kevin fell in love with Jamie. However, Jamie did not even know Kevin. Jamie sneered in derision in their one scene together ( where Kevin met him as himself). He projected all of his insecurities and self-hatred on Kevin.
Kevin’s (Robyn’s) final testimony was a bit unrealistic but explosive. While it was not realistic for the witness/defendant to ask questions — which she repeatedly did, her testimony was moving and meaningful.
He hates me because he hates himself. He would rather take me down than admit the truth.
She painted a picture that the jury could not refute. And in the process, Kevin gained the confidence to be himself on stage. Although still dressed as Robyn, he used his voice to sing, which was beautiful.
J. Harrison Ghee is one of the most gifted actors in this series. He played both of these “characters” with ease and grace. His confidence and sass as Robyn stole every scene.
His vulnerability as Kevin was endearing. We felt the moment when he fell in love with Jamie. We felt the passion he had for teaching. There was nothing dull about his character, and it was terrific when Kevin realized this truth.
What were your thoughts on Accused? Did you find it a realistic depiction of the LGBTQ community?
Were the charges against Kevin fair? Did his lawyer do everything she could to defend him?
Do you hold any sympathy for Jamie? Drop your thoughts in the comments.
Brandi Powell is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.