Why 'Transparent' Could Be The Next 'It' Comedy To Watch
Amazon Studios is doing something Netflix isn't—giving viewers the upper hand by having them decide which shows should get the full-season treatment. As part of its pilot season, Amazon has unveiled ten pilot episodes created by head honchos such as The X Files' Chris Carter and The Wire's Eric Overmyer, and letting you vote on which ones they should keep making. We're especially rooting for a particular show, Transparent, starring Arrested Development's Jeffrey Tambor, to take the lead.
Although Netflix has had its shares of achievements with original programming like with House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, Amazon is becoming a worthy competitor in show-subscription services. This is the online giant's second romp with their pilot season experiment, a free-viewing event on Amazon Prime that launched on Thursday. Amazon hopes to have a couple of these a year, according to CNET. The inaugural pilot season took place in April 2013 and led to five shows (including children's selections) getting the green light to become full series. (You're able to watch the shows by subscribing to Amazon Prime's service, and the episodes roll out one-by-one unlike how Netflix puts out the whole season for binge-watching.)
In this rank of pretty stellar pilots, Jill Soloway's Transparent truly stands out. The writer and producer who played an integral role in Six Feet Under (!) and United States of Tara brings a stand-out cast for her humorously dark half-hour comedy.
Based in Los Angeles, Tambor plays Mort, the father of three children (who are 20- to-30-something Eastsiders) who has a secret he's been harboring: he's transitioning into becoming a woman. His children, whom he calls "selfish," are lost in their own worlds: Ali (Gaby Hoffman) is jobless and still getting financial help from her father for rent money; Sarah (Amy Landecker) is living the straight life as a stay-at-home mom who explores another side of herself with a former lesbian lover; and Josh (Jay Duplass) is a music producer who knocks boots with younger women. Oh, and Judith Light (remember Who's the Boss?) plays his estranged ex-wife.
It's a humorous, thoughtful and raw show that reveals the most naked and vulnerable moments of our day-to-day lives. Even though there's only just the pilot, there is already noticeable chemistry between the amazing cast members. Tambor can go from quiet and sensitive to lashing out like a lion, while the brother-sister relationship between Ali and Duplass feels easy and natural.
Also, it's always refreshing to see an entire show dedicated to the topic of transgender issues. Laverne Cox in Orange is the New Black made important strides in bringing the transgender topic to light in TV, but her story was just one part of show's premise. However, it's possible that Transparent won't be free from any LGBT criticism, as the role of Mort to Moira is played by a cisgender. Hopefully, Sarah's exploration about being a lesbian is more than just on the surface and something deeper.
For the Angelenos, the comedy will feel close to home as there are nods to Griffith Park and the debate between whether the Eastside is better than the Westside.
Soloway told IndieWire about what she thinks makes Amazon's pilot season different from the norm in getting a show produced:
And now here it is, and everybody's seeing it -- women are seeing it, feminists are seeing it, gay people are seeing it, trans people are seeing it. Normally if somebody's writing a pilot, I'm having to hope that straight white golf course male at the top of the chain will allow me to get it to my people. But, oh, my people were watching it yesterday. It honestly feels slightly revolutionary.
Let's cross our fingers that Transparent gets the green light for an entire season because honestly, we're already hooked!
You can watch the full pilot of Transparent here.