The 20 Best Music Moments from “Transparent” So Far

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The soundtrack to Transparent is perfect. It’s helped to capture for us a show’s heart and soul. We’ve witnessed the Pfeffermans’ experiences as they unravel, collide and grow, and with each circling story, we’re given this piercing, emotional force along for the ride. The music itself has become a character—the standout moments happening when the affecting song swells in the background, and the characters respond, and we do, too.

Music Supervisor Bruce Gilbert, who has supervised on shows like Weeds and Orange Is the New Black, brought us some of our favorite moments in Season 1. He’s flanked by the series’ Music Coordinator, Nicole Weisberg, who also served as coordinator on Californication.

The music that lives in this show sticks with us—here are the scenes and tunes we just can’t get out of our heads.   

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20. In “Bulnerable” (2.6), Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) and Leslie Mackinaw (Cherry Jones) get naked and take bong rips in Leslie’s hot tub. “Test” by Little Dragon is playing. It’s a fun moment because bongs haven’t looked so good on screen since Shane and Jenny passed the torch on The L Word. And there’s a sensual lingo happening with Ali and Leslie’s bodies under water. We can’t look away.

19. In the pilot episode, Ali and Josh (Jay Duplass) go through old records and start singing together to “Operator” by Jim Croce. They’re listening to each other’s poor life choices, offering sibling banter and complete insight into their characters. Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) hasn’t come out yet to her family—they know her as their dad Mort, and they’re convinced Maura’s big news is cancer. “Operator” is covered later on by Margaux (Clementine Creevy) and Alison Sudol under the name Glitterish.

18. Sarah (Amy Landecker) and Tammy (Melora Hardin) have taken their relationship public and are attending the Trans Got Talent event in “Symbolic Exemplar” (1.7). As they walk in, “I’m Every Woman” by Chaka Khan is heard, and Sarah appears enthused—no, overly stoked. Noticing this exit from her usual cynical, eye-rolling ways, a drug-sniffing Tammy begins to take stock. (Pssst! Sarah’s high off that Jedi Kush.) This is a classic Sarah moment, and she owns it.

17. In “Rollin” (1.3), you might remember a scene where Ali goes to her trainer’s apartment where she tries to strike up a threesome with him and his roommate. She ends up feeding all three of them MDMA in the process. “Merry Go Round” by The Coathangers plays on in the background. “We used to be kids!” She realizes while super high, helping the men to “see their pussies.” Then, to top it off, she gets a call from Maura, who wants to meet with her—to come out to Ali as Maura for the first time. Honorable mention is awarded to flashback teen Ali (Emily Robinson) who sings along to her Psychedelic Furs tape in the backseat of the station wagon.

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16. At the end of “Moppa” (1.4), Ali and Josh are both feeling blue, and Ali puts on “Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye” by Bettye Swann, forcing Josh to dance with her. Ali gets completely silly, breaking Josh from his funk, who joins in on the fun, too. It’s one of those moments we all pocketed away—because it’s two Pfeffermans having a good time with each other, no sarcasm, no pity, no guilt about it. Plus, any time any two characters let out a good dance to a record player in their living room, it warrants a spot on a list just like this. If Ali and Josh had to be described in this moment, it’s: cozy as fuck.

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