The 4 main reasons why you need to see the new Amazon-original series ‘Transparent’ as soon as possible
I saw the trailer for the new series Transparent in the theater a few weeks ago when I went to Kevin Smith’s new film, Tusk. Perhaps I’m their target audience, having already been a huge fan of Jeffrey Tambor ever since Arrested Development. Still, from the trailer, I thought the show seemed very promising. It already felt so intimate, which is extremely difficult to relay to an audience in 2 minutes or less. I finally decided to borrow my brother’s Amazon-Prime account (this is necessary in order to watch the program) and began watching the first season.
Once I clicked play, I was a little nervous. I started to worry it had the potential to be cliche, predictable, or even in bad taste–disappointing. Well, after actually watching the show, I can honestly say that it blew me away.
Here’s a list of the top 4 reasons why you just need to watch Transparent as soon as possible if you know what’s good for you.
***Disclaimer: if you do decide to check out the series, make sure you have time to marathon the first season–currently available via Amazon-Prime. It’s a bit of a commitment, but it’s necessary, because after the first episode, you will be hooked!!
1.) As Jeffrey Tambor himself attests: “It’s the greatest transformative role I’ve ever had in my life.”
You can see from this interview alone, Tambor’s magnetic likability is almost tangible. It’s obvious he has really identified with his character, Maura, and that he understands her. In the show, Tambor brilliantly exhibits Maura’s plethora of inner conflicts. Of course, the clearest of those is fundamental–she is a woman unfairly trapped in a man’s body. But, what’s great about this show is that her character has so much more depth than that. She loves her children, but is frustrated with their selfishness. She is all too aware of their weakness, but even more conscious of their strengths. She is so gentle, loving, and accepting, but also feels entirely alone.
Maura, before revealing herself to her family, felt constantly suffocated inside Mort’s exterior and could never be truly seen, except when she was able to be herself within the safe company of her support group. Tambor’s performance is so believable and genuine that he is frequently able to beckon tears from the viewer’s eyes (OK, my eyes) with his expert portrayals of the vulnerable, misunderstood, beloved Maura.
2.) This show is one of a kind.
This is NOT a show focused on one main character–the transgender father–but a show about the progression of an entire family as they come to terms with what is not a traditionally “normal” experience of collective bonding. Each member, complete with his/her own wants and predilections, each with their own insecurities, weaknesses, and strengths, is given a voice in the program.
As the viewer, it’s great to not ever be bored/annoyed when any one character takes over our screen, but actually at times have the opposite reaction, joy, when someone else in the family helps us see our own sense of understanding.
It’s true, many of us aren’t particularly knowledgeable about the transgender community, at least those of us who haven’t had much experience knowing transgender people or being a transgender person, but we can still relate to the shock and confused responses of Maura’s children. Then, the beauty is that the more Maura gets to explain herself–be herself–the more we viewers gain a sense of empathy as well, in step with Maura’s family and friends.
3.) The characters are so endearing that you become invested in them, immediately.
I was shocked by how unique the show felt right off the bat. Each character is phenomenally written and performed, and it immediately creates immense depth to the show. Every individual is tremendously conflicted, making them all the more interesting to watch on screen. There is Sarah, Maura’s oldest daughter, who has a family of her own and is clearly on top of her own things, very schedule-oriented and particular about the way things get done. But what happens when she compromises her perfectionism to embrace her immoral desires? You’ll have to find out…
Josh is the middle-child. In one scene, Maura describes “Joshy” as being very successful and image conscious/materialistic. We eventually see him struggle with the juxtaposition between his image of himself and who he really is–a subtle and compelling reflection of the character progression of his mother, Maura. Finally, there’s Ali, Maura’s “baby,” as she calls her. Ali is promiscuous, unemployed, with a sense of humor that she doesn’t really make any attempt to censor. In one scene Maura reveals that Ali scored in the 99th percentile on her SATs, but she “doesn’t seem to be able to land.” The show makes you want to stick around to see if she ever does.
4.) Here’s a no-brainer reason to watch: It’s hilarious!
Honestly, from the trailer, I wasn’t sure if I should expect this show to be particularly funny. But it absolutely is. The dialogue is so realistic that it kind of feels like a relaxed version of a Tarantino screenplay–very casual, realistic, and hilarious. This show knows how to take the awkward, sometimes dark dysfunction of the typical family-experience and portray it with the humor and charm that we derive from similar situations in real life.
It’s very hard to spend so much time saying a show is funny without providing specific examples; but, even though I desperately want to spoil specific scenes from the show to prove how funny it is–out of respect for your viewing pleasure–I will refrain. Just know that this is a show that is great from the very first episode, and onward.
If you have a taste for dark humor, memorable characters, and intimate drama, all packaged together with shockingly original direction…may I recommend Amazon’s Transparent?