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Film / Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story

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Trapped: The Alex Cooper Story is a Biopic directed by Jeffrey G Hunt that aired on Lifetime in 2019.

It's based on the true story of 15-year-old Alex Cooper (Addison Holley) who reveals that she's gay to her devout Mormon parents. The elder Coopers don't take it well; they fear so deeply for her soul that they take her from their Southern California home and place her against her will in a conversion therapy home in Utah headed by Johnny Simms (no relation) and his wife Tiana. Trapped for eight months with strangers, Alex faces horrible punishments and beatings that are intended to cure her homosexuality...


Troped: The Alex Cooper Story:

  • Abusive Parents: Alex's parents. They react to her coming out as gay by sending away for conversion therapy in another couple, the Simms', home, who hold her prisoner there (they had signed over parental rights, thus also counting for her). As part of her "therapy" and for breaking her resistance, she's beaten (among other abuses).
  • Adults Are Useless: Most adults, from Alex's parents to the police. They all know what the Simms do and how they're doing it; they simply don't care, agree with this or can't be bothered.
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: The reunion between Alex and Frankie never happened in real life.
  • Based on a True Story: Alex Cooper is a real woman who was forced into conversion therapy at age 15. The details of her experience are related in her biography.
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  • Bungled Suicide: Alex attempts suicide after months trapped with the Simms. Thankfully, she fails. More Truth in Television as this is sadly common for victims of conversion therapy.
  • Butch Lesbian: Hannah's girlfriend Collette, who has a short haircut and fairly masculine clothes.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Alex tries telling multiple people about being held against her will and abused. However, no one does anything, or possibly even believes it.
  • The Cassandra: Alex whenever she tries to ask for help. The people she asks either don't believe her or else are homophobes themselves and don't care as long as she gets "cured".
  • Coming-Out Story: Alex comes out as gay to her parents quite early on. This results in them sending her to conversion therapy, which lasts until she escapes.
  • Crusading Lawyer: One of these, Paul C. Burke, gets Alex free of the Simms and her parents in the end. He has since become a part of Alex's extended family.
  • Cure Your Gays: The whole plot. When Alex comes out to her parents (who are Mormons) the first thing they do is send her to a gay conversion therapy prison.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: After much hardship and a 6 month court battle, Alex wins her freedom from the Simms and her homophobic parents. According to the ending message, they have reconnected since then and accept her now.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Given how conversion therapy is so heavily discredited and ineffective that it’s legally classified as torture in many places and even many Real Life opponents of gay marriage are against it and the movie is based on a true story, it goes without saying that Alex’s lesbianism isn’t cured.
  • Gaslighting: The Simms blame the kids they’re converting for being attracted to people of the same sex and beat them if they show any defiance or resistance. With Alex, they try to guilt her by accusing Frankie of taking advantage of a troubled young girl and seducing her.
  • Get Out!: Alex's mother initially reacts to her coming out by telling her "Get out of our house".
  • Good Parents: Jason, one of Alex’s Utah classmates, is gay and he was accepted by his mom when he came out to her.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Alex's parents, devout Mormons, are very anti-gay. When she comes out, their reaction is to fear for her soul. She's thus sent into the care of the Simms, who are even more vehement, to suffer horribly abusive conversion therapy, which she eventually escapes. The ending says they've changed their minds and accept her now.
  • Hope Spot: Just when it looks like Alex is finally getting help, she gets trouble with the Simms for being late to class and not explaining why she was late.
  • How We Got Here: The movie opens with Alex running barefoot on a dark street. The movie jumps back six months where it details her coming out as gay and being sent to a conversation therapy group, which is what she’s running away from.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Alex, who dresses femininely and has long locks of hair. Her girlfriend Frankie and Hannah, a lesbian they know, also have similar looks.
  • Out of the Closet, Into the Fire: Alex coming out to her parents results in her being sent to conversion therapy where she is subject to highly abusive conditions.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Carol Lynn, one of the only adults in her life who does everything she can to help Alex. She eventually gets Alex sanctuary at the local Youth Crisis Center.
    • Special shout out to the bus driver who takes Alex away from the Simms and to school in the middle of the night, no questions asked.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: The Simms repeatedly tell Alex there's nothing that she can do to stop them from holding her, as they're both connected with everybody in town and well-respected counselors. At first it's true, but thankfully she connects with a teacher, crisis counselor and lawyer to free herself.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The Simms in particular, but forced conversion therapy of minors is pretty much just this just by definition. Mr. Simms whips Alex with a belt and punches her in the stomach when she tries to get help. The Simms also make her wear a backpack full of rocks when she refuses to give Frankie’s full name and load it up with more rocks when she continues to refuse.