Metro Weekly

ABC’s ‘Big Sky’ makes TV history with nonbinary star

Jesse James Keitel will be the first nonbinary series regular in a prime time show

jesse james keitel, jerrie kennedy, big sky, nonbinary, abc

Jesse James Keitel as Jerrie Kennedy in “Bog Sky” — Photo: Kharen Hill/ABC

ABC drama Big Sky will make television history tonight after casting nonbinary actor Jesse James Keitel as a series regular.

Keitel, whose credits include gay rom-com Alex Strangelove and award-winning short film Miller & Son, is the first nonbinary person to feature in the main cast of a prime time network TV show, The Advocate reports.

Set to premiere today, Nov. 17, Big Sky is a procedural drama from David E. Kelley about private detectives who team up with an ex-cop to search for a serial killer in Montana.

Keitel features alongside a cast including Ryan Phillippe, Kylie Bunbury, Katheryn Winnick, Valerie Mahaffey, and John Carroll Lynch.

During a virtual premiere held last week, Phillipe, one of the detectives, said the show has “moments that take your breath away.”

Bunbury, the other detective, said Big Sky is “stacked, like major, and you want to know about each character. It’s incredible.”

The cast also applauded Keitel, who uses she/they pronouns, during the post-show Q&A with Variety‘s Angelique Jackson.

“First of all, she’s incredible,” Bunbury said. “But she’s representing for nonbinary people, and for ABC to do this and to have Jesse, who is incredibly talented, I feel like that’s worthy of a cheers.”

Keitel previously celebrated the historic nature of their role, told the Advocate last month that their character was originally a “cis gay man who dressed in drag to turn tricks at the truck stop.”

“They have really shifted the role because of me,” Keitel said, with the character of Jerrie Kennedy now identifying as transfeminine nonbinary.

“Giving a queer person the agency to describe themselves and to advocate on their own behalf will resonate with the community,” Keitel added. “I know there’s only so much me as an actor can do. At the end of the day, I have to say the words I’m given.”

Big Sky airs Nov. 17 at 10/9c on ABC. Watch the trailer below:

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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