This is going to be something rather different for the space, in fact it’s never been done here before. But the simple reason for that is that there’s never been the opportunity until now. We have seen something in the last few days that is completely new and deserves all the notice and attention that it can receive.
To what do I refer? I’m referring to Transparent.
Quite simply it is the first and only television series ever produced featuring a trans lead character. Not only that but it is a show that is in stark opposition to so many previous television portrayals of trans people in that the character in question is not a psycho or sex worker or crime victim. She simply a basically ordinary woman trying to navigate a world that is not always sympathetic, even in LA where the show is set. The closest we’ve come to this sort of portrayal is the character of Sylvia played by Laverne Cox on Orange is the New Black, though hers is not a lead role.
Having watched most of the first season I can add my voice to the unanimous chorus of reviews which attests that the show is outstanding on every level. It’s not just good because of the subject matter, we all know it is certainly easy to do this subject poorly. Rather, it’s well done and that it understands it subject matter and strives for realism, and finds the comedy and drama in everyday situations rather than staging false set pieces that do not ring true. Moments like the first time she tries to use a ladies restroom at the mall, or the moment when she encounters an old acquaintance is not aware that she transitioned among many others are moments that speak directly to the heart of those of us who have lived that experience. For me that’s what makes the writing so excellent – the idea that it captures a part of our lives so exactly. But what really sets show apart is the acting delivered by star Jeffrey Tambor. The skill with which he inhabits the character is astonishing. I admit that when I first heard about the casting I was skeptical. I just couldn’t see him being right for the part, having seen it and I have a difficult time imagining anyone else doing so well.
There are so many good reviews out there that it would be superfluous for me to detail the ins and outs of the shows plot, but there are a couple of aspects that I would like to address. First, I do think that this show, like many others that have been freed from the constraints of network censorship, have gone too far in the other direction in terms of sex and nudity which some may see as gratuitous. Personally, I do not have an objection to seeing it but I wonder if perhaps there is some part of the potential audience that would benefit from seeing a well-balanced portrayal who are pushed away by the adult material.
The other issue, and perhaps the bigger one for the trans community, has to do with the blowback from some quarters about the fact that the lead character, Maura, is being played by a non-trans actor. Frankly, such criticism is as wildly off-base that could possibly be. For starters, the character is just beginning transition and you would have difficulty finding an openly trans actor who is at a similar stage of transition. It comes off as much more organic to build off the “maleness” of the character and watch her grow. And that to say nothing of the quality of the actor involved. Beyond that, the show creator has recruited a trans couple in the business to serve as first consultants and now assistant producers. They in turn have assembled a working crew overflowing with trans people all of which cannot help but serve as a very present sounding board helping to perfect the authenticity of the stores and portrayed.There also are trans actors scattered throughout the supporting cast.
No production company anywhere in the world is as trans friendly as this one. It’s high time for the professional complainers and to take a breath and realize that such complaints are often counterproductive.
In any case, the short review is: if you have any opportunity at all to check out this show would be doing yourself a massive disservice by not doing so.
Image via LOGOTV