If one show alone could be held responsible for leading Amazon’s original series’ to the front of the pack, it’s Transparent. For a show with issues that no one dared speak of in certain circles prior to its arrival, 82 award nominations with 48 wins, including two Golden Globes, has brought the issue of how a family deals with a transgender patriarch directly to the masses.
Art Imitates Life
Creator Jill Soloway takes the journey of Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) right out of the pages of her own book, modeled after her father’s own revelation and journey of coming out as trans. The balance of truth and sexuality is a thin line to walk without coming off as preachy or in-your-face, but Transparent does it with ease, lightness, and a touch of humor.
Tambor shines in the role of a lifetime, balancing the issue of what happens when the father of the family realizes that he’s ready to become someone else. Though Tambor’s transformation is that of a man making the bold move to live out the rest of his life as a woman, the consequences, aftermath, and relationship changes could be that of any family. Not all life changes are related to gender and the lessons and emotions that run high in the Pfefferman family could easily be found in families dealing with other (deeper) secrets and truths.
Secrets, Lies, And An Outing Of Truth
As the family around Maura wrestles with their own secrets of sexual confusion, identity, and desires, each learns how to rewrite the history that they once thought so solid and turn it into a different future for different outcomes. Secrets are told, disguises come off, and arrangements are rearranged to make life better (trickier?) just as it is in the real world. This is a show based on boundaries; knowing when to test them, when to strengthen them, and why they should exist in the first place.
As much notoriety as Tambor gets for bringing life and depth to Maura, the supporting cast brings a realism to the family as Judith Light (Ugly Betty, Who’s The Boss?) kicks it up a notch to play Maura’s ex-wife Shelly, and Gaby Hoffman (Wild, Field Of Dreams) portrays the perfect intelligent, yet flighty and selfish, like-her-or-don’t daughter Ali. All of the actors grapple with life and reality rather convincingly, which is what makes this somewhat controversial topic so relatable to the masses. You don’t need to have a trans-parent to understand and relate to the story of Transparent.