Season 2 of ‘Transparent’ Expands Its View of the Pfefferman Clan

8 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Season 2 of ‘Transparent’ Expands Its View of the Pfefferman Clan.

“What is being queer if not questioning everything?” asks Ali Pfefferman (Gaby Hoffmann), during an argument with her lover. The second season of Transparent arrives in full on Amazon Prime Video on December 11th, and Prime subscribers have been granted sneak-preview access to the first episode already; it’s a beautiful start to the season. Such success almost certainly catapults a show into a second season and then comes an even bigger, weirder hurdle: how on earth do you top an opening act like that? (Stan, on demand) faces just such a hurdle for its second season, having sailed out of its first into almost universal acclaim and a display case that required extra shelves almost as quickly as the show’s US commissioning broadcaster, Amazon, could build them. Josh (Jay Duplass) ends his relationship with Rabbi Raquel (Kathryn Hahn) after he finds out he fathered a kid with his babysitter back when he was a teenager.

The show took the very longest of bows, and scooped up Emmy Awards, Golden Globes and awards from the Director’s Guild and a bunch of other gong-giving bodies. Sarah (Amy Landecker) proposes to her girlfriend, Tammy (Melora Hardin), after feeling guilty about a brief tryst with her ex-husband in the laundry room. So in the interests of giving you the best platform from which to leap right back into the lives of the Pfeffermans — it’s been over fourteen months, after all — we’ve assembled a quick catch-up guide for where things left off at the end of season one. The opening season’s premise met Mort Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor), and came along on her journey as she revealed her actual self, Maura, to her family.

Seemingly caught in a perfect storm, it was bookended by stunning writing from series creator Jill Soloway, who didn’t so much base it on her own experience (and father) as borrow heavily, and a luminous performance from Tambor, an actor known mostly for his turns in sitcoms who brought an unexpected depth and humanity to this fragile individual. Tambor was a revelation — afraid and determined, warm and prickly — and it would have been understandable for Season 2 to simply build a bigger showcase for his deservedly Emmy Award-winning performance. Instead, Season 2, whose 10 half-hour episodes begin on Friday on Amazon, broadens its focus to the vast extended Pfefferman mishpocheh: children, in-laws, exes and long-gone ancestors.

Not because she is a way of interpreting the transexual journey – although that, and all of the headlines her seemingly distant cousin Caitlyn Jenner created, are never far from the narrative. But because to some extent the question of trans identity is almost beside the point. uses transexuality as a means of exploring something far more fundamental: identity itself. While she was married to Shelly and the kids were little, she spent some time going away to vacation spots for like-minded people, men dressing as women, et cetera. In truth, however, maybe we have to question our own willingness to embrace change, and our own approach to the shifting frame that Soloway has so spectacularly created. But really, it treats the family itself as a protagonist, an organism that maintains collective quirks and personality even as its members evolve and transform, are born and grow old.

The idea that family is memory — that ancestral experiences and trauma are passed down like heirlooms — comes through in the season’s most daring device, a running flashback to the family’s roots in Weimar Germany, whose flowering of intellectual and sexual freedom is about to be quashed by the Nazis. Promotional material for Star Wars: The Force Awakens (in theatres December 16) has teased longtime fans with cameos by the original trilogy’s star characters, including Han Solo and Princess Leia.

Cherry Jones is magnetic as a charismatic radical-feminist poet whom Ali seeks out as a mentor; Alexandra Billings (one of several transgender cast members) deepens her role as Davina, who had a rougher road than her privileged friend Maura. (“Transparent” is very conscious of the dollars-and-cents costs of transitioning.) This Los Angeles tour of sex and identity is as intersectional as a 405 interchange, and it could all play like a graduate gender studies seminar if it weren’t so overtly funny. The show finds comedy in a shaman at a “wimmin’s music” festival (“Some of you I know from my drumming away racism group”) and in the culture clash when the Pfeffermans meet Colton’s conservative Christian adoptive family. (The paterfamilias greets Maura as “Colton’s Mee-Maw.”) Yet the show respects each character’s sincerity. Its spirit is that anything can be funny, but nothing is risible. “Transparent” is one of a rare few socially conscious television series — “The Wire” is another — whose sense of message and responsibility heightens rather than burdens it.

Force Awakens director JJ Abrams isn’t saying. “I’m not surprised that people care, because I feel like I’m one of those people who cares as well,” Abrams said during interviews with the core cast, minus Hamill. “It feels appropriate, given that we’re trying not to ruin the film for everyone before the film comes out.” However, it doesn’t appear the Force is strong with this theory. Shepard also cites Abrams’ reverence for Star Wars as another reason for Luke to stick with the Jedi path. “JJ is very respectful of the source material.” Although Luke is purportedly spotted in an earlier teaser – shrouded in a robe and reaching with a robotic hand (the same hand cut off by Vader in The Empire Strikes Back) for favourite droid R2-D2 – speculation about Luke’s whereabouts ramped up in October when the movie’s final trailer was released during prime time football in the US. “That was sort of the moment where people really starting theorising as to why that may be,” said Dominic Jones, head writer for fan site Star Wars Underworld. In Episode 3 (directed by Marielle Heller, “The Diary of a Teenage Girl”), Ali meets some lesbian friends in a bowling alley, and the camera flits around the room from woman to woman — laughing, drinking, nuzzling, flirting, being. Shepard thinks Luke could fall into the role of mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi from A New Hope, morphing into a “mythological figure” whose existence has become legend. Still, she’s the most selfish person in the family AND THAT IS SAYING SOMETHING, she’s been continually ungenerous towards her moppa despite being outwardly liberal and bohemian and fancying herself very open-minded.

Online theorists also have suggested that Luke may have a much smaller role than previously thought. “It almost seems like maybe they’re saving Luke for future movies,” says Jones. “And he could be more of a Yoda-type character in Episodes VIII and IX.” She’s a terrible friend to Syd (Carrie Brownstein), her supposed best friend who also slept with Josh and later confessed that she’s had romantic feelings for Ali for a long time, to the point of telling Syd not to come to shiva for Ed. Late in this season, Maura gives Ali a little unsolicited, Moppa-ly advice: Be skeptical of those who are overly certain, as comforting as absolute answers and clear binaries can be. “I suggest it’s always wise to steer clear of people who are overly attached to dogma,” she says.

And yet season one ended on the most generous of notes, with Colton leading the Pfeffermans in a prayer of thanks for their day, their lives, and for each other. I hadn’t slept for days, I hadn’t eaten for days, and here I am on my living room floor with this gorgeous, beautiful, 10-pound baby and there’s nothing I felt more than love for my body. I’ve been through a divorce, and there are moments of complete and total panic where you think you might have made the biggest mistake of your entire life.

And by the time you’re with her, two hours in, you’re taking off all your clothes, you’re not plucking your eyebrows, and you’re not shaving your pubic hair.

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