To enjoy the full experience, please, play this song as you read along:
I’ve always wanted to sit around that kitchen table one more time, to see Ruth Fisher cooking, Claire complaining about high-school and society’s hypocrisy, David trying to be the perfect gentleman and Nate trying to fit into his family again. Now with Transparent, the new show by Jill Soloway, one of Six Feet Under‘s writers, we have another chance.
Amazon’s new brand new series tells us the story of a
wealthy family in L.A. whose members are struggling to find and accept their own identity. We have a divorced mother living and taking care of her partner, an old man who seems to have mental problems; The daughter Ali, a slightly unstable and ruined woman tortured by her non-standard body; Her sister Sarah, a mother with husband and children who rediscovers her sexuality with her ex-girlfriend from college; Josh, the immature and sensitive son, and finally the head of the family: Mort.
Although, as we see in the episode, all the characters have issues with sexuality and identity, the biggest challenge against heteronormativity is done by Mort (Jeffrey Tambor). This character, a father figure in the eyes of society, is starting to show to others how Mort (I will pointedly not use the words he or she until we can actually know how Mort wants to be named) wants to be seen and understood.
In the scene with the transexual (or transgender) support group, we see (one more time) the talent of a gorgeous and versatile actor: in Jeffrey’s face we can see the pain of marginalization, the joy of everyday’s small triumphs and the anger about not being able to tell the truth to others. But above all these deep feelings there is a sense of fun, because people like Mort (transgender, transexual or just people outside the binary gender system) also laugh. To dramatize always these kind of LGTBIA stories leads to victimization which, at the same time, leads to relationships based on feelings of superiority.
The aesthetic part of the series like its palette of colors, its music, or even the minimalistic opening sequence with that vintage typography, reminds us of an American-indie-film-style, which is further enhanced with the way the scenes are edited: when songs like Jim Croce’s Operator sound there are no divisions, all the individual stories interweave into a single beautiful momentum. Also the use of the camera, sometimes static but with several panoramic shots and restless close-ups, gives a particular feeling to the serie: a perfect balance between the feelings and the introspective moments, and the more general-aesthetic ones.
So as Soloway said we have “a psychosexual comedy about a dysfunctional L.A. family with serious boundary issues” that makes us dream, only with one episode, with the huge possibilities that characters and narrative may offer. A series truly committed to sexual and gender diversity, some sort of queer Six Feet Under, and, hopefully, more conversations around the kitchen table.
The Homecoming Queen.