Although undergoing a sex change is not as unusual a procedure as it once was in days gone by, it is still hardly an everyday occurrence -- especially in rural, conservative western Illinois, where Normal takes place. After 25 years of marriage, Roy Applewood (Tom Wilkinson) surprises his wife, Irma (Jessica Lange), by announcing that he'd rather be a woman, and in fact has felt like a woman for most of his adult life. As Roy undergoes the standard hormone and prosthetics process to transform himself into "Ruth", his sudden gender switch elicits shock, surprise, and anger from friends, family members, and co-workers alike -- but also is met with support and sympathy from a number of extremely unlikely sources. Tastefully produced and acted, the film wisely avoids shock value in its subject matter and condescension in its treatment of middle-America types. Directed by Jane Anderson, who also adapted the script from her own stage play Looking for Normal, the made-for-cable Normal premiered March 16, 2003, on HBO.