Review Welcome to Paradox (1998) - episode 12 "Options"

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Member: Rank 5

Aired Oct 26, 1998 on Syfy

A wife losing touch with her husband, chooses an option that will make the couple seriously look at their sexuality in a totally different way.


Justin Lazard ... Leo Lawson
Robert Moloney ... Jules Lawson
Nancy Sorel ... Cleo Lawson
Jill Teed ... Nora
Michael Philip ... The Host
Cyndi Mason ... Janice
Veena Sood ... Faith
Christopher Logan ... Dr. Marion Charles
Alessandro Juliani ... Saffron
D. Harlan Cutshall ... Bartender
Edward Diaz ... Receptionist


John Greyson


Jeremy Lipp ... (developed by)

Lewis Chesler ... (created by) (as Lewis B. Chesler)

John Varley ... (from the short story by)

Scott Frost ... (written by)
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Member: Rank 3
Tonight’s episode was the classic love story. Boy meets girl. Boy marries girl. Boy cheats on girl. Girl becomes a boy. Oh wait, what? Yes, in Betaville you can change sexes back and forth on a whim if you wish. So Cleo, our female hero, becomes Leo. It’s not to spite her husband actually, but to try to see his side of the story. She wants to understand why he would chase another woman when he doesn’t seem to appreciate the one he already has. It’s the old cliché that men are always on the prowl for sex.

Husband Jules is shocked when his wife first shows up half-changed so to speak – her face still female, but not the rest of her. When she goes full commando, he actually recognizes her when she shows up at his club before she even introduces herself – I mean, himself. First, since she’s a man she immediately has to have sex and does so with her hot girlfriend who used to be a man. She’s looked at love from both sides now – literally. To make a long story short, in the end she understands her husband better and feels closer, but he quits his job and takes off. She returns to Options Inc to get her old body back, only to find her husband there asking about the procedure just like she had before. He’s trying to understand her side of the story now. Maybe they do belong together after all.

This is one episode where I really, really wished they had closed captioning because I couldn’t make out a lot of the dialogue about why men are men and women are women and so on. It’s also a relevant episode today when people are “identifying” as other sexes. Time was when there were a few rare cases of people having sex change operations, but now it seems way too common and we have transgender characters replacing gay characters as the newest fad in TV shows. It’s too bad there isn’t a scientific process whereby people could swap sexes so easily and completely until they either decide they want to stay that way or else get it out of their system. That’s preferable to the irreversible body mutilation people go through these days and end up looking like…well, let’s just say they won’t come out looking like Nora!

Perhaps the strangest scene was when Cleo went to that weird club that started with “Oo” and tried to act like a man with a “woman” who honestly looked like a man in drag. Cleo tells her that she assumed as a “natural woman” she might…and then the woman corrects her to say “Why would you assume that? I was born a man.” Yes, why would she assume that indeed when her friend Nora is the sexiest looking woman in the whole show and she admits she used to be a man?

It’s an interesting episode and has a nice upbeat ending. Most of what I saw follows a pattern of how people would probably talk and act if indeed you could change sexes on a whim – like referring to people as “changers” and such. But it’s a little too bizarre for my tastes. I’ll give it 7 romantic movies of kite flying on a little glass projector screen.

I’d have preferred more of a TWiLIGHT ZONE ending like so:

“Well, doctor, I’ve seen what life as a woman is like. I’d like to go back to being a man now. You did say it was easy to go back?”
“Why, yes it is. And it only costs $50,000.”
“What!?! It only cost $500 to switch the first time."


Member: Rank 5
OK, from what I remember, this was the bizarre one. Back in the day, issues involving sexuality were not common on mainstream science fiction, perhaps, at best, they would be dealt with in a queer literature subgenre. Consequently, this episode left a marking impression, but it wasn't an entirely positive one; it was thought-provoking, but not quite pleasant. Now I think it's a notable effort with an irregular outcome.

Technology is magical! In the episode, people can change their bodies as they please. This would have a much deeper consequence than the story shows. Just imagine. People would use this technology to look beautiful, and then we’d have that Twilight Zone episode in which every man wanted to look good, so they all looked like Richard Long. Or people could use the tech to get stronger and taller. Or they could all turn Black or Asian to know what other races feel. All sorts of changes could happen, and then we could have an entire season of episodes about people changing their bodies for several socially relevant reasons. Especially because it leaves no permanent damages or consequences, so it's more like magic than a medical procedure. It kind of breaks the unwritten law that says that any advantage in fiction must have a consequence for the characters.

Anyway, in the story a married woman becomes a man to understand why her husband is cheating on her. Yeah, right, because women have no way of knowing why somebody would cheat, of course, and women never do it. Sure. Look at it this way: for every man willing to cheat on his wife, there is a woman willing to sleep with somebody else’s husband.

While the story seems to be groundbreaking and tackling the subject of transgenderism and related issues, in the context of the episode, a couple consists of a man and a woman. If a woman wants to have a romantic connection with another woman, she must become a man to do so. In the scene in which a man turned woman and a woman turned man have sex. Depending on the way you see it, in the end it's just a boring white man and woman relationship like any other traditional relationship. So, there’s no real transgenderism here. No bisexuals, just “bicurious,” literally, and that’s not a joke. Perhaps the only exception to this rule would be the wife’s friend whom she sleeps with after becoming separated from her husband and becoming a man. But we never get to know the friend’s real motivations; sometimes it just seems that he (she) tried it out, enjoyed the idea and decided to stay female, but it was never an issue that she had a female identity to begin with.

I don’t doubt that in a society where miracles like insta-gender bending were possible people would end up using that for trivial reasons, just like in the joke where a man who can time travel easily ends using his power or machine to correct the most irrelevant mistakes he made. But, really, I was thinking, what happened to good old empathy? Is it so hard to put one’s self in somebody else’s shoes without literally having to become them?

I like the way it ended, it was creative. I would have liked it even better if the husband had actually gone through with the procedure and presented him (her) self to his (her) wife (now husband), instead of just talking about the situation. Remember: showing is better than telling.

This is surely one of the episodes people are likely to remember about this show. “Options” gets 8 fancy satin outfits that make a woman who became a man and wants to look manly still look a little girlie.


Member: Rank 3
This episode had an interesting premise, what if you could change your body quickly easily and without problems.
Would concepts such as gender, beauty and ethnicity have any of the meanings they have today?
There was so much this could have explored what happens to your awareness of "self" when the person in the mirror could change every week. How would relationships survive if your husband could become your wife. Would people choose hybrids, a little from column A a little from column B?
Some are these things are touched on. After Cleo gets the male chest her husbands response is "you did this without even asking me" to which she replies "about my body?". This opens a whole can of worms about relationships, I don't think that gives you domain over the other person but I would hope you care for them enough to consider their feelings and responses to your actions.
She does do this in seeming response to seeing him having an affair. It is understandable she wanted to hurt him and his response to hearing she knows he is having an affair is troubling. He doesn't deny it or admit and apologise he barely even acknowledges it instead focusing on her change. It does seem their relationship is in deep trouble.
Cleo go to the oophyte lounge (which is the stage in a plants development where sex organs develop, clever show). She meets a guy who looks like he's cosplaying as a Bajoran from Star Trek Deep Space 9. She dances with him and then he snaps at her "go become a man" not very tolerant of you. He does at least go after her and is a little more supportive this time.
The video playback thing seems to be one of the most constant bits of technology in this series, apart from the VW Beetle and seems plausible.
Back at the clinic Cleo is now going for the procedure. I liked how the attendant was now a woman, though it was not the most convincing of transformations. If that was an advertisement of the effectiveness of the procedure I would have second thoughts.
Interesting they get her to count backwards. We don't tend to use that in anaesthetics as much as the concern is people might think something has gone wrong if they start to reach 3,2,1.
After the change it's been 4 days and the attendant is a man again, guess he wasn't happy with the result.

Now man talk, between Leo and a bartender. It is interesting that Jules recognises Leo so easily. I guess knowing that the change can be done and Leo was considering it make it more likely.
Back to the Oopyhte and it was at this point I realised I have mixed up Leo and Jules' names so had to go back and switch them. I realise now why the show chose these names. Leo is now a man so jumps in bed with the first woman who shows interest. I suspect this wasn't what the show was trying to say and Leo has a lot going on that might contribute to the decision, plus Nora is kind of hot.
I now realised that Leo is the male version name and Cleo was the female, back to changing my review.

We then get the very awkward moment where Jules has brought the woman he is having an affair with to his house and Cleo walks in on them after having slept with Nora. I did feel for Janice, she is the only one in this situation who doesn't know what is going on.

We do get the amusing moment where Leo and Jules go to the bathroom. Leo shows himself as not having the male bathroom handbook when not only does he use the adjacent stall but also talks, you have much to learn young one.
Here this will help

The VW beetle turns up again, this time I think as a self drive taxi.

So I guess from the ending Jules and Cleo have reaffirmed they want to be together whatever form they take, marriage saved.

Especially because it leaves no permanent damages or consequences, so it's more like magic than a medical procedure. It kind of breaks the unwritten law that says that any advantage in fiction must have a consequence for the characters.
I agree with you, but I am going to give the episode a pass on this. I think by making it consequence free in isolation it meant they could explore the other consequences of the changes and in this case the effect on Cleo and Jules relationship.

Overall this was a decent episode.
7 new employment tags the clinic has to print out for the attendant each week, out of 10.