Jill Soloway’s new dark comedy, Transparent, tells the story of Mort (Jeffrey Tambor), a patriarch of a dysfunctional Los Angeles-based family harboring a secret: She’s a transgender woman named Maura. While much of the attention surrounding the series — which debuts Friday, Sept. 26 — has largely been focused on the transgender aspect of the show — the topic certainly has reached a new level of mainstream conversation thanks to the success of Laverne Cox, Janet Mock, and Carmen Carrera — it explores so much more than one letter of the LGBT community.
In fact, it may be one of the first series to truly explores bisexuality in an honest way. “People talk about LGBT — the world of LGBT politics — and they say there’s a forgotten 'T,'” Soloway says. “I want to talk about the forgotten 'B.' There is so much bisexuality in this show.”
Most of that is explored through Sarah (Amy Landecker), Maura’s eldest daughter who, while married to a man, rekindles a relationship with her ex-college lover, Tammy (Melora Hardin). It’s that spark that forces her to confront her own sexuality and decide what she truly wants for herself.
Yet, the “B” is not limited purely to bisexuality. It also references the binary aspects of the series. At times it is a comedy, at others it is a drama, but the two elements come together to create a whole. It's a Platonic ideal that resembles John Cameron Mitchell’s approach to the story told in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, about an accidental trans woman who is searching for her other (male) half.
In Soloway’s series, Tambor is playing dual roles even though they are the same person — his outward appearance to his family that he has yet to come out to and his true identity as a woman. Transparent is not about his transition from male to female but rather the quest of self-discovery.
Ali, Maura’s other daughter (played by Gaby Hoffmann), is also on a similar journey as she learns that she does not fit into the gender binary confines but rather is genderqueer herself.
When it comes to television, no show has explored so many layers of gender and sexuality identity, which is probably why the series is streaming online rather than primetime.
“I have absolutely 100-percent creative freedom to dive into the most compelling, exciting, boundary-crossing, risk-taking moment in every script in every episode in every scene,” Soloway says of her relationship with Amazon.
“You will see nothing like this on television — I could call it television — people have never seen anything like this before,” Tambor adds. “And the freedom of Amazon means that that’s possible.”
Part of that freedom is what allowed them to explore the "B," the "L," the "Q," as well as the "T." Rarely do we get this much diversity, let alone all in one family.