At one point while filming Transparent, Amy Landecker says co-star Tig Notaro taught her about the female anatomy. "We had this very funny conversation, and she was explaining that a clitoris and a labia are basically just stunted balls and a penis," the actress says. "And that we are on a continuum. When you realize the actual anatomy of that continuum, you realize, Of course, we all can find some way to connect with each other in some way, if you want. I realized that there's not that much difference."
This realization was essential to how Landecker plays Sarah, the eldest daughter of Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), a transgender woman who comes out to her family. Part of Transparent's appeal is the diverse cast of characters that represent several different letters in the LGBT community. From the outside, it can be seen as a show about the T, but it goes beyond that, exploring binary nature of sexuality and gender through Maura's daughters, Sarah and Ali (Gaby Hoffmann). The former is a married mother of one who's confronting her feelings for her former lover, Tammy, which are reignited in the beginning of the show. While initially viewed as a lesbian, the actress doesn't think the distinction is so clear. "I want to identify her as bisexual," Landecker explains of her character, "because I don't think she is going to identify either way."
The fluidity and conflict seen on screen is an honest perspective of bisexuality, which often takes a beating in the media. Recently renewed for a second season by Amazon, Transparentwas been a critics' favorite ahead of its online debut in September and, while the fandom hasn't quite reached status, it continues the trend of narratives created by women that are teaching wider audiences about women's bodies and a wider spectrum of sexuality.
According to Landecker, who was 44 years old at the time of filming, she felt a level of openness to her own experiences while developing her character. "One is the divorce element, which is just my own personal experience; it was happening at the same time, so it was a very resonant storyline for me," the actress explains. "And then there's the sort of rebirth of sexuality."
While Landecker admits she was "sort of bi-curious" in college, being on set during her divorce from journalist Jackson Lynch allowed her to open up in unexpected ways. Landecker says her journey was definitely jumpstarted by the show. "Because of what happened with Maura, she feels inspired to take action much faster maybe than she would have," Landecker says of Sarah, who quickly finds herself on an emotional rollercoaster after both her marriage and her affair with Tammy start to unravel. "It's easy to make the decision and then it's much harder to live with the aftermath."
Landecker explains that she felt an "emotional and physical" upheaval as well. "I crushed on a lot of people, and I felt very alive... I don't want to upset someone's girlfriend, but there were people on set that I would have absolutely gone out with that I had not considered before in my life," Landecker says of her newfound awareness. "I feel completely open. I was not really schooled in toys and things that would allow your sexual appetites to be satisfied regardless of the gender of the person that you're with. When you're involved in the spectrum of sexuality that this show covers, and that we have people participating in and getting to know, you realize that you can be very easily attracted and very easily satisfied in a lot of different scenarios."
As audiences continue to discover (and binge) on the series, and the fanbase continues to swell, the actors are still grappling with its success. "It's overwhelming and surreal," Landecker says of the reaction to Transparent. "I'm really blown away by the diversity of the demographic that's enjoying it and the intensity with which people are consuming it." While Sarah is in search of fulfillment, it seems Landecker is just enjoying the ride.