“Transparent” is progressive storytelling at its very best


In the pilot, Sarah reconnects with Tammy and ends up bedding her ex while simultaneously discovering her father is dressing in women’s clothing. Originally Tammy was played by Gillian Vigman, but the pilot had to be reshot after Gillian became pregnant and Melora Hardin stepped into the role. Together Sarah and Tammy will navigate their re-developing relationship (as Sarah is married to the father of her children) while also coping with her father’s transition.

Amy Landecker and Melora Hardin on set
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“I think the fact that it’s funny and it’s sexy as all get out is an incredible combination,” Amy said of the show. “I always say to people, ‘Whatever you’re into, this show covers it.’ We have cis love affairs with Josh, we have bi — possible with me — lesbian, we have a trans person. We have so many explorations of sexuality so people like things that are sexy and funny and I don’t think they care. If you can make it change the world, even better!”

There’s even some flirtation with queerness in Ali (Gaby)’s relationship with her best friend Syd (played by Carrie Brownstein).

“I hope people don’t think of us as a queer or gay show, not because I don’t want us to wear that mantle proudly, but I hope this show will make this conversation moot,” Gaby said. “It’s a show about people.”

As the straight son, Jay Duplass’s Josh is just as complicated as his sisters and father, but says the overall theme of family is what will endear people to the show.

“What’s interesting is when we’re doing it as the characters it truly just feels like you’re navigating the waters of family. That is the stuff of this show—navigating family and navigating your own personal issues,” Jay said. “Someone was asking if we were Jewish earlier today and it kind of blew my mind because I grew up in a very straight-laced Catholic family and it is insane how familiar the encasement of this family is totally different but all the feelings and power dynamics and things that you go through are unbelievably familiar. It’s just the outward expression of it is a very rich ground for exploring the things we are talking about. How to find your true self, the barriers to doing it, what you have to risk in order to achieve those things. No matter who you are, you have to risk a lot to find yourself.”

The cast were all fans of Jill’s feature Afternoon Delight, saying they couldn’t wait to work with her after seeing the film, and even though Transparent ended up as an 11-episode series, Jill said she would have made it into a movie if Amazon had passed.

“We also accidentally call it a movie,” she said. “So maybe there will be a good five-hour viewing all day at a festival one day, where you can watch all five hours straight.”

2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 5 2014 Summer TCA Tour - Day 5

Jeffrey Tambor said the way they crossboard (film episodes out of sequence while knowing exactly where their character arcs are going) makes the experience feel more like a film or a novel, even.

“I just realized, I’ve never thought about this before, but sometimes when you’re doing a TV show or you doing a movie, you actually know as you’re doing it that you know what it’s housed in,” he said. “And I don’t have that feeling about doing this show. If anything somebody mentioned a novel this morning and that’s sort of how I do feel. We’re riding an arc. We are, fortunately or unfortunately, crossboarding. It’s blended to that arc and thinking about that arc. I haven’t thought about that before. It’s transcending it.”

Set and filmed on set in Los Angeles, Transparent is aesthetically pleasing, but it’s the writing and acting that really brings it together. A family dramedy in the vein of Jill’s other work on shows like Six Feet Under and United States of Tara, Transparent is poised to not only entertain but educate viewers, introducing them to people they feel like they know, even if they don’t know someone transgender, or queer, or Jewish.

“I am just going to say the obvious — it’s a show about people,” Gaby said. “It’s a show about trying to find your true self and being in a family and being human so gay, straight or otherwise, that’s universal when it’s done right and Jill doesn’t sacrifice anything to get to the truth of the matter so I think that should resonate across all lines.”

You can watch the Transparent pilot on Amazon now. The entire season will premiere in September.

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