May 15, 2017

[TV] Transparent: Season 2 Review

Transparent remains to be one of the key shows from Amazon Studios that we continue to follow and enjoy. It first season demonstrated some amazingly brilliant and clever writing that really keeps this show rather distinct in tone versus many others. And for a segment of the LGBT community that probably struggles more for recognition and representation versus others, this show is a remarkable step forward.

Despite some criticism about the show not involving more transgender people in its initial production, Tobie and I were still looking forward to catching up with the second season and seeing where they'd take things for the rather quirky Pfefferman family this time around.

This second season definitely shows a lot of growth not just for its lead character but also for the Pfefferman family as a whole and of course the writers behind the words that defined this character journey. The show continues to surprise us with rather significant insights and key pieces of dialog that really manage to send a strong message home into the heart of every viewer.

Synopsis: Transparent is a comedy drama series created by Jill Soloway for Amazon Studios. The show has earned numerous nominations and acting awards for its first season alone and has already been confirmed for a fourth season at the time of this blog.

The second season starts with the wedding of Sarah (Amy Landecker) and Tammy (Melora Hardin) with all the family gathered but in typical Transparent fashion not everything goes as planned and Sarah gets cold feet during the reception after the ceremony. Josh (Jay Duplass) and Rabbi Raquel Fein (Kathryn Hahn) may be having a baby but they didn't want to news to get out so soon.

One of the quirkier things in this season involves Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) reconnecting with his ex-wife Shelly (Judith Light), who knew about Maura's desires to better express her femininity. The two go as far as living together again although whether or not Maura can still stand Shelly's rather forceful way of caring for people including staying deeply involved in their day to  day lives is one of the major stories explored in this season.

What I Liked: Maura's journey remains to be complex, fascinating and ultimately fulfilling to watch. And credit needs to go to the writing team behind the show for finding the right words to explore the stories of her life more along with Tambor and the other actors for bringing these characters to life so beautifully. They continue to keep the focus on this show really being more about family and not just about Maura. Sure, they have individual plot lines and  their respective problems but as is the way with families the really big problems tend to spiral out beyond you and only family can help you find your way.

I also really liked the extra focus put on the Pfefferman's past as we look back a few generations to the story off the family that came to America. That added a whole new dimension to the show in terms of how they got to where they are today and how Maura's journey may not exactly be unique to her alone. And this is not positioned to provide some sort of biological explanation for Maura being transgender but more an interesting point of comparison to explore Maura's world further.

What Could Have Been Better: Not all stories are created equal and some of the character threads will seem fascinating to some while others will seem irrelevant or unnecessary. Which which is hard to determine based on some sort of objective measure but I can imagine how people's opinions may differ as to which characters they feel for and which ones they'd rather not hear about. But there are some pretty dark secrets in the Pfefferman family that come out in this season so there's that to stir the pot.

I think the only other tricky thing is the comedy part of this comedy drama as it's not your typical laughing-out-loud sort of comedy. It does make you smirk or nod that yeah, life's like that. But it's nothing that will send you falling off your chair while laughing. It's not in itself a bad thing except whenever we examine this show under the lens of comedy, in a manner of speaking.

TL;DR The second season of Transparent remains pretty strong even when compared against the first and I totally get how the show continues to air. There are some difficult moments and some emotionally challenging moments in this season but it's all part of the experience. Thus the second season gets a solid 5 misunderstandings based on Maura's gender out of a possible 5.

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