“Transparent” Transcends TV Tropes


Paige Mistler, Staff Writer

Walking down a hallway in your college, you’d probably never expect the identity crisis going on behind the door of your male professor’s office. A bag holding a dress stays hidden in his desk. He can’t help but pull it out and hold it up to himself, admiring the person he wishes he was brave enough to be. The bag ends up in the trash can on his way home, but the need to express his true self continues until the day “he” begins identifying as “she”.

Amazon Prime original, “Transparent,” follows 70 year old Mort Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) on his journey transitioning into Maura. The first episode gives an insight into the first struggle transgender people face in their transition: coming out. Divorcee Maura asks her children Sarah, Gaby, and Joshua (Amy Landecker, Gaby Hoffmann, and Jay Duplass) to come over for dinner, where they all expect that their father is going to admit that he has cancer. Instead, Maura cannot work up the guts to admit her true identity, and all three children find out in interesting ways as the season continues.

As a cis-gendered, straight, 16 year old girl. I haven’t the slightest idea of what goes on in the everyday life of a transgender or transitioning person. The show is probably a tad bit romanticized since Mort was a college professor (before retirement and transitioning permanently) and earned a hearty income; which would make it easier to pay for things he needed in order to complete his transition (surgery, hormones, etc.) Some individuals would not have access to these resources, which would either halt their transitioning process or make it harder to complete.

I feel that the show tried to steer towards using actors that might be considered “closer to home” instead of the standard and cliche “blond and thin”. The show also focuses on sexuality, instead of only gender. The oldest and youngest Pfeffermans (Landecker and Hoffmann) both have their own periods of questioning, which end up in 3 failed relationships.

The show also touches on the Jewish family’s past: escaping Nazi Germany and moving to America. Rose, Maura’s mother (Shannon Welles), and her mother both escape from Germany and move to America. An aspect of the family history that I found interesting was that Maura’s uncle transitioned from male to female during his/her time in Nazi Germany.

Ultimately, I love the show; and according to the 97% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8/10 on IMDb, the critics do too. I’m sure that there are some parts of the show that could be more accurate; but to me, it seems that the show did their research and found real life aspects of transitioning to make the show more realistic. The show is nominated for three 2016 Emmy awards. The Emmy Award and Golden Globe-winning series begins its third season on Amazon September 23, 2016.