Television viewers who don’t subscribe to the online streaming service of Amazon had not been able to see the work of Jeffrey Tambor in the first season of the series “Transparent,” which picked up five Emmy Awards and two Golden Globes.
The show, a half-hour novelistic series that explores family, identity, sex and love, has received high praise. Tambor plays Maura, who spent her life as Mort, the Pfefferman family patriarch. When she reintroduces herself to her family, everyone’s secrets finally start to come out.
The second season will be available Friday, Dec. 4. Series creator Jill Soloway is surprised how much the world has changed since the first season debuted last year.
“It’s kind of mind-blowing about how our culture has sort of caught up to Trans 101,” Soloway says. “In the intervening time, we’ve hired a trans writer. Her name is Our Lady J. And having a trans woman in the writers’ room has really allowed us to tell a story for Maura that comes from her own place of subjectivity. We’re taking the gloves off.”
Soloway has been producing television shows for 15 years: “Nikki,” “Six Feet Under,” “Dirty Sexy Money,” “United States of Tara.” Every time she would pitch a show, Soloway would always stress how she wanted to write something that had not been done before and would change the world.
It wasn’t until after her father came out as transgender in 2011 that Soloway knew just what her world-changing project would be.
“It really just presented itself fully formed as a way that I could write a love letter to my parent and hope that it would affect the world in a way that would make the world slightly safer for them to walk out of their apartment building, hail a taxi, stand in the elevator with strangers,” Soloway says. “I think that in the same way that parents want their kids to be safe, kids want their parents to be safe. You want your family to feel safe in the world. It was a very sort of small gesture.”
Over the course of the past year, as it has become this tsunami and in the zeitgeist, the most exciting part is the civil rights movement, that rights are being gotten for trans people every day.
Series creator Jill Soloway
Soloway knows that at its core, her series is a television show designed to entertain. That doesn’t take away how “Transparent” is helping with a large cause.
A lot of how the series is helping promote better understanding of the trans community falls to Tambor. It’s an understatement to say this role is vastly different than any he has played during his 35 years as a professional TV and film actor.
Amazon has really thrown down here. This is not an easy show, and they picked this up so nimbly.
Jeffrey Tambor, ‘Transparent’
Past credits for him have included work on “The Ropers,” “Nine to Five,” “Hill Street Blues,” “American Dreamer” and “Arrested Development.” There’s been no public response to any past work to match what’s been going on since he took on the role of Maura.
“I’ve had some wonderful conversations from there to here, meeting wonderful people, and people talking about their families, either on the street or people stopping me and talking about the show and wanting to talk about family,” Tambor says. “Or even the transgender experience that they know of or read about or something. But most often they want to talk about their families, and that has enriched my personal life a lot.”
The big change for Tambor in the second season is that Maura is not so much the central figure, but more of a gateway figure for stories about the other characters in the series. The central theme will be whether people are still loved if they go through a change.
Tambor adds that the series is becoming more than just a story about a trans parent or transitioning: “It’s about people seeking their freedom.”
- Season two debuts Friday, Dec. 4, Amazon