Philosophising about the 'S'-word: Watch… and learn
Transparent is an American comedy-drama web video series produced by Amazon Studios that debuted on February 6, 2014. The series was created and directed by Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under). The story revolves around a Los Angeles family and their lives following the discovery that father Mort (Jeffrey Tambor, Arrested Development, Bent, Archer) is transgender. It was picked for a full season by Amazon Studios on March 12, 2014 which premiered in full on September 26, 2014.
Soloway created the pilot Transparent for Amazon.com, which became available for free streaming and download on February 6, 2014 and was part of Amazon’s second pilot season. The show stars Gaby Hoffman (Louie, Girls), Jay Duplass (Togetherness, The Mindy Project), and Amy Landecker (Revenge, Louie) as siblings whose father (played by Jeffrey Tambor) reveals he is going through a significant life transition. On the new web-based TV viewing experience: “The socialist in me welcomes the kind of democratization these platforms are bringing to our creative community and the viewing public. I feel like I’m part of this creative revolution, like an Arab Spring—but let’s call it an Auteur T.V. Spring—sweeping across the land.”
The pilot for Transparent was picked up by Amazon Studios. On what transparent means to her: “Transparent stands for gender freedom for all, and within that freedom we can find grays and muddled purples and pinks, chakras that bridge the heart and mind, sexiness that depends on a masochistic love or a sweeping soul dominance. In particular, Transparent wants to invent worlds that bridge the binary: Genderqueer, Boygirl, Girlboy, Macho Princess, and Officer Sweet Slutty Bear Captain are just a few incredibly confusing, gender-fucking concepts that come to mind.” The show is “about sex and intimacy, about a family inheritance of a woman being born. They get this new mother from their father’s female self.”
As part of the making of the show, Soloway enacted a “transfirmative action program,” “favoring the hiring of transgender candidates over nontransgender ones.” This meant that “20 trans people had been hired in the cast and crew, and more than 60 had been employed as extras.” She also hired “two full-time transgender consultants to steer her away from any pitfalls.” All the bathrooms on set are gender-neutral. In research for the show: “Our work has been influenced by our consultants, well-known transgender cultural producers Jennifer Finney Boylan, Rhys Ernst, and Zackary Drucker. On our coffee table at work we have the Trans zine Original Plumbing, as well as every book ever written about being trans. My favorite is Whipping Girl by Julia Serano.”
The full season of Transparent premiered on September 26, 2014 in the binge-watching-friendly mode where all ten episodes of the series were made available at once, although Joe Lewis, Amazon Studios’ Head of Original Programming, told the Television Critics Association panel. “I don’t think of it as binging, I just think of it as a five-hour movie.”