Remembering How ‘There’s Something About Miriam’ Exploited The Trans Community For Ratings

If the recent slew of reunions and reboots tell us one thing, it’s that our gen bloody loves nostalgia. It seems like we’re all looking back at the shows and flicks that we enjoyed as kids and thinking ‘Damn that shit slapped. They don’t make ’em like that anymore.’

But while there are heaps of shows to look back on fondly, there’s one that will always be an absolute stain on the history of television: There’s Something About Miriam.

The series featured “six men wooing 21-year-old Mexican model Miriam Rivera without revealing that she was transgender until the final episode”.

The show’s purpose was to humiliate both a trans woman and the guys vying for her heart for the sake of our entertainment (and ratings).

I’m aware that it was almost two decades ago and the trans community are still copping horrific abuse so they certainly didn’t have a chance in hell of receiving proper representation back then.

The fact that a show designed to malign and humiliate the trans community for entertainment was approved by a network and watched by viewers across the globe is an absolutely sickening thought.

The series ended with the blokes finding out that Miriam is a trans woman, obviously with the intent of capturing their unhappy reactions for the enjoyment of viewers. The winner initially accepted the prize money, then later rejected it and joined the other contestants in a lawsuit that sought to prevent the airing of the show.

In the lawsuit, the contestants alleged conspiracy to commit sexual assault, defamation, breach of contract, and personal injury in the form of psychological and emotional damage. After the men settled for an undisclosed amount, the show aired in 2004.

And as for Miriam, her exploitation by reality TV producers didn’t end there. Rivera went on to make a guest appearance on Big Brother Australia during the show’s fourth season. She entered the house as “Maria” and later revealed to the contestants “I wasn’t born as a woman. I was born as a man”.

Miriam Rivera reportedly died by suicide last year at the age 38. She is among a large number of trans people who take their own life each year.

The point of this article isn’t to shame those who tuned in to the show, but rather to remind folks that the trans community have been the subject of torture and humiliation for years now and it needs to stop now.

Matty Galea is the Entertainment Editor at Pedestrian. He also Tweets about pop culture and astrology and posts sarcastic, self-deprecating content on Instagram.