Review: Transparent – pilot

“Boy, it is so hard when someone sees something you do not want them to see”

These words of wisdom from the father of the Pfefferman family (Jeffrey Tambor) to his youngest daughter Ali (Gaby Hoffman) beautifully capture the mood of the pilot. There’s so much nuance in the show. Lingering looks. Unsaid words. Quiet introspection. Sadness. Things we can easily see but are not verbalised by the characters. But it’s also hard when someone cannot see something you want them to see. And if there’s one thing the Pfefferman kids need to work on is seeing beyond themselves.

Transparent, created by Jill Soloway, is set to be a fantastic series that follows Maura Pfefferman, former patriarch, trying to tell her adult children that she is transitioning from male to female. But what’s great about this show is that it’s not purely about being transgendered. It is also about being queer, in every sense of the word. It is about being a deeply flawed person and dealing with it. It is about family dynamics.


It’s not just Maura who’s going through a change. The oldest, Sarah (Amy Landecker), is a housewife who runs into an ex-girlfriend and it’s clear that flame has not fully extinguished. Youngest daughter Ali is a twenty-something with no job, no real responsibilities, and plenty of baggage. She’s a sad, loveable mess. Middle child Josh (Jay Duplass) seems to be a successful music producer currently working with a girl band named Glitterish, who are as manic pixie dreamgirl as they sound. While Ali is the youngest, it feels as though Josh the most childish, the most unsure of what he wants.


It’s not all doom and gloom. The show is quite funny in the way that life is funny. The humour comes organically from the relationships and interactions. Most importantly, there’s humanity. The characters’ personalities and problems feel real and it makes us want to follow their journey. Maura is the only real likeable person in the pilot but there’s so much potential for character development.


Lastly, Transparent is an important show to have on TV. There has not been much focus on the real struggles of the transgendered community before. The representation that’s come before it is generally negative or comical. The sensitivity and directness shown in the pilot is a much-needed change. This show will open up discussions both positive and negative and also bring light to a community that has been overlooked and ignored for too long.

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