She likes to sing and loves her family. She has arthritis in her left knee. She is 60-something and has a big secret she is about to share with the world.
Jill Soloway’s dramedy Transparent is the brave and insightful story of Morton Pfefferman, a divorced father of three who confesses to his dysfunctional family what he has known since he was a child – that he is, in fact, Maura. Jeffrey Tambor’s heartbreaking portrayal of a transgender woman won him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy in 2014. Tambor (previously in Arrested Development) balances the bumbling awkwardness of Mort with the charm and dignity of Maura, as she owns her identity in the face of an uncertain future and fear of rejection from her family.
The first entire was released on Amazon Video in February 2014 in ten 30-minute binge-worthy episodes. The first episode of season 2 released on December 1, 2015, the rest of the series will be out on December 11.
Transparent flashes backward to a time when Maura could find a way to be her true self only when she ran away to a cross-dressing camp, where her secret was a source of joy and not a burden. Until Maura finds out that it isn’t so, and she is left alone with her secret once again.
The show differs from anything on television in terms of plot, aesthetic, dialogue, and its courageous exploration of gender and sexuality. It is as much about a shift in television as it is about an individual’s transition. Transparent dares to have a deep, raw and blunt conversation about the freedom to be who you really are, and succeeds beautifully.
When Maura leaves the family home to find a more supportive community that will understand her, she comes alive. But the changes do not come easily. Her three kids stay close but are insecure, self-consumed, detached, and maybe even toxic. At the point where the story begins, each of them is going through their personal dramas. The oldest, Sarah, leaves her husband for her girlfriend from college. Josh works in the music industry, but quits his job after a young singer he was dating gets pregnant. Ali, the youngest, who is reminiscent of Lena Dunham from HBO’s Girls, shamelessly mooches off her parents. The show spends enough time on back stories and flashbacks, adding context to their shallowness, insincerity and shocking sense of entitlement.
All this while, Maura is trying to understand herself, and she wants her kids to see her, know her and understand her for who she truly is. As do we, episode after episode. She is scared, but liberated. She is alone but happier than she has probably ever been. She is finally, openly Maura Pfefferman.