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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Review: ‘Transparent’ shows authentic depiction of current LGBTQ culture


    Amazon Studios 

    Sarah Pfefferman (Amy Landecker) looks on as her transitioning transgender parent, Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) lights a candle in Amazon Studios’ “Transparent.” The show revolves around the Pfefferman family as Maura transitions and is an honest portrayal of modern-day LGBTQ life.

    After immense critical praise and taking home the Golden Globe for Best TV Series, Musical or Comedy, Amazon Studios streamed season one of its original series “Transparent” on Saturday for free.

    “Transparent” is a dramedy surrounding the Pfefferman family, specifically Mort (Jeffrey Tambor, “Arrested Development”), a father who, at the age of 68, is coming out to his three adult children as a transgender woman. While the primary storyline centers on Maura (Mort’s chosen name) and her struggle dealing with her past and her admittedly “selfish” children’s acceptance, the series gives equal weight to each of the four important Pfeffermans.

    Sarah (Amy Landecker), Maura’s oldest daughter, must come to terms with her relationships with women in college when an old flame shows up as a parent at her children’s school. Josh (Jay Duplass), the middle son and a music producer, fails to maintain any meaningful relationships with women, due in part to his relationship with his babysitter when he was 15. Ali (Gaby Hoffmann), the androgynous, aimless, youngest daughter, floats from one obsession to the next, always nearly on the brink of disaster. Tambor, who won best actor in a TV comedy or musical at the Golden Globes, does not overshadow the mindful, genuine performances of Landecker, Duplass and Hoffman.

    While “Transparent” primarily focuses on the present-day Pfeffermans’ lives, scenes flit back to the 1980s and ’90s, depicting Maura’s secret life of cross-dressing and the children’s often-absent mother and father, who inevitably get a divorce.

    What is captivating about “Transparent” is its inherent honesty and subtlety. It is a 21st century show, one that captures the essence of a modern age where sexuality and gender are no longer binaries that people must hide behind. But, it refrains from over-emphasizing lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning rights and advocacy, as some shows with a similar goal tend to do. The rainbow hues are all there, just not flashing quite so blatantly.

    And while sexuality and marriage equality have become more commonplace in mainstream American television, “Transparent” is the first TV show with a transgender person as its main character. Laverne Cox, the first openly transgender person to grace the cover of Time magazine, was only guest-actress status for her portrayal of trans inmate Sophia Burset on Netflix’s “Orange is the New Black” for the first two seasons. Though she was signed on as a supporting actress for season three, her character’s storyline faded into the background during the show’s second season. Other shows have had transgender characters with prominent storylines, such as “Glee” and “House of Lies,” but none portrayed at the level and with the same finesse as “Transparent.”

    When Tambor accepted his Golden Globe, he recognized the transgender community and the progress being made through “Transparent.”

    “I would like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community,” Tambor said. “Thank you for your inspiration, thank you for your patience and thank you for letting us be a part of the change.”

    Along with its subject matter, “Transparent” is groundbreaking in its format as a digital streaming TV series. While the concept is not originally Amazon’s — Netflix had several original series out before the premiere of “Transparent” last February — the show is the first online series to be recognized with the top honors in the TV, musical or comedy category at the awards show.

    Though many TV shows in their pilot year catch the attention of awards shows, “Transparent” is not one that should be forgotten after awards season is over.


    Follow Mia Moran on Twitter.

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