TV Review: ‘Transparent’ Series Finale

Variety | 9/15/2019 | Daniel D'Addario
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Amazon’s “Transparent” will have a chapter, or a section of one, in some to-be-written history of television, in part thanks to how brazen and how daring its ideas were for its moment. Some of those were ideas that came to seem simply logical in retrospect: The show was a pathbreaker for trans representation onscreen, casting trans performers to play characters (though, notably, not the “trans parent” of the title) whose journeys they shared. This came years before FX’s more polished “Pose,” and represents a meaningful step forward; it’s “Transparent’s” legacy, and a good one.

Others of the show’s choices — its assertiveness in moving its characters in radical new decisions, only to reverse those decisions and return the story to a consequence-free stasis episodes later; its tendency to substitute a robust emotionality over storytelling rigor — were carried across, or almost were, thanks simply to the show’s brio. Pushed along by Jill Soloway, a showrunner whose force of personality helped make her a public figure, the show believed in itself strongly enough that it could seem churlish to ask what the plan was, say, for any of the characters other than the three (played by Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, and Gaby Hoffmann) whom the show tended to focus most closely on.

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Unfortunately, if shows’ last impressions are how they last in memory, “Transparent” will be remembered for its least admirable qualities — vacillation, imprecision, flippancy. The series, which is to end its run with a feature-length musical episode premiering Sept. 27 after a public screening at the Tribeca TV Festival Sept. 15, pushes and shoves its way towards attempted profundity in songs of wildly variable quality, while simply ditching out on the storyline of several characters it never knew what to do with.

Format - Premise - Stem

The format and premise here stem from...
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