Now you’re just somebody that I used to know
For the past couple of episodes Maura has been excited for the Trans Got Talent competition at her LGBTQ centre. All her growing confidence with her true self was going to be exemplified in this competition. She was finally living her life, loving her friends, embracing the future. So when Maura looks out onto the crowd halfway through her duet with Davina–a rendition of Gotye’s Somebody I Used To Know— and she sees the empty seats where her children are meant to be, it’s heartbreaking. Not only because they all left without so much as a word, but because the realisation dawns on Maura. The support Ali, Sarah and, to an extent, Josh have shown may have just been pretence.
In an earlier episode Davina revealed her past with her family and how they abandoned her because they didn’t understand. She warned Maura about this sad fact. But Maura held on to her faith and believed family would always be there for her. This is what hurts so much about this episode. Maura has always tried to be supportive and positive for her family. So realising this love only goes one way is unfair to say the least. Feeling dejected and finding no solace in her new friends, Maura goes to the only person she has left: Shelly. This only proves how important family is to Maura. Tambor’s acting in this episode is magnificent. He really captures the heartbreak Maura experiences but tries to hold back. The fear that Davina was right is subtle but prominent.
From the get go we knew the Pfefferman children are narcissistic and can be careless. But there were redemptive features in each one. They tried. But leaving halfway through Maura’s performance because they felt embarrassed and uncomfortable was a surprisingly low point even for them. Out of the three, Sarah has been the most genuine in her acceptance of Maura. Yet she we see her let Tammy drastically change her family home with silent obedience. We see her putting her pleasure (i.e. getting high) before Maura. It’s disappointing. Then we have Ali who had always been uncomfortable but seemed open enough to accept her Moppa sooner than Josh. But when she sees Maura performing she was the first to leave. Perhaps what Ali liked most was the idea of non-conventional sexuality and gender. Earlier in this episode we saw her going on a date with her transgendered professor, a man who insists she calls him “daddy” at the end of every sentence. By the end of the episode he calls her out on her selfishness and brands her a “chaser”. Lastly, Josh’s frustration with the situation comes out in full force. His date with Rabbi Raquel is interrupted by his inability to “get it up” because of his inability to think of his father as a woman. Raquel tries to comfort him but in the end he not only disappoints Maura, but stands Raquel up because he just can’t see past himself and his wants.
This was a hard episode because it epitomises Davina’s warning that family lets you down. Sure, there’s still potential for the Pfefferman kids to grow the hell up and realise there is a world outside of themselves. The character development that came before it has been compromised. It’s actually great writing because the reality is people are stubborn and set in their ways. Change doesn’t always come so easily. It’s just a shame that Maura had to learn this in the way she did.