Transparent (TV Series 2014– ) Poster

(2014– )

User Reviews

Add a Review
92 ReviewsOrdered By: Helpfulness
"Transparent?" Should Have Been Called "Annoyingchildren"
pfogertyca18 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I imagine this series received critical acclaim and garnered the Golden Globe for Best Television Series because of its groundbreaking subject matter. It is groundbreaking and it does deal with topics rarely seen on the small screen. But leaving behind its envelope pushing and taking it simply as a drama (it's not a comedy at all, even though it won in the Comedy category), Transparent fails on a number of levels.

Series creator and writer Jill Soloway missteps by populating the story with an assortment of aggravating characters, particularly the three grown children of Maura Pfefferman, the transgender father played by Jeffrey Tambor. These three whining ninnies are thoroughly unlikable and annoying. Scratch that - they're reprehensible. It may have been Soloway's intention to present a flawed family, but she forgot to give the kids a single redeeming quality. Eldest daughter Sarah (Amy Landecker) is an upper, upper middle class soccer mom with a stable husband and two kids who suddenly chucks it all one fine day to pursue her repressed lesbianism with a butch flame from her college years, only to decide a short time later that the the gal-on-gal lifestyle may not be her thing after all. Son Josh (Jay Duplass) is a sleazy, well-to-do record company manager who sleeps with lots of young groupie types and impregnates a bubbleheaded chanteuse, but who really gets off on old ladies. Then there's la crème de la crème of the irritating threesome, youngest sibling Ali (Gaby Hoffman), an unemployed nymphomaniac who vacillates between bedding black men, a kinky female-to-male lover, and maybe - just maybe - her best girlfriend who's also sleeping with her hyper-sexed brother. You want to smack all of these kids, but it's Ali you really want to hit over and over again.

Then there's the story. While Maura's struggles with accepting her female gender identity should be Transparent's focus, they take a backseat to the insignificant, and at times, completely implausible, trials and tribulations of the Terrible Trio. Maura's coming out to her children barely registers with them. They practically acknowledge it in passing, then go back to their petty navel gazing. So instead of watching a show about a man who becomes a woman, we watch a show about selfish adults who just happen to have a transgender parent that shows up occasionally to give them money. Only when the focus is on Maura, her small circle of friends, her explorations of her new world, and the humiliation she sometimes faces as an out transgender woman does Transparent feel authentic and moving. Sadly, these moments are few.

Finally, Soloway's writing is mediocre at best. The dialogue among the characters is frequently stilted, and there appear to be many improvised moments that the actors simply fumble. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention Melora Hardin's performance as Sarah's masculine partner Tammy. Hardin plays her as an over the top caricature, slouched forward, legs in a constant wide stance, fingers hooked into her blue jean belt loops. It's unintentionally comical and cringe-worthy.

On the positive side, Transparent does has some noteworthy performances. Jeffrey Tambor brings the right balance of wonder, joy, fear, and world weariness to Maura, and he is every bit deserving of his Golden Globe nod. Bradley Whitford does a surprising and effective turn as Maura's secret transvestite friend Marcy, and Alexandra Billings, as Davina, Maura's transgender confidante, is superb. Judith Light brings nice comic relief to the proceedings as Maura's ex-wife Shelly, but she's completely under-utilized.

All this talent, however, can't overcome the weak script and unsympathetic characters. Transparent has indeed set a new precedent in recognizing the transgender world. I just wish it had done a better job.
98 out of 126 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Waste Of Time
Doug Burr26 April 2017
I love Jeffry Tambor. His work in Larry Sanders and Arrested Development is timeless. He is one of my favourite actors, but, even his talent cannot save this show. I hate it so much. I even watched two full seasons. The first to give it a real chance and the second to see if it resolved in any meaningful way. The problem is all of the characters are just such horrible people. I hate them all so much. They all keep making such terrible decisions. I wouldn't mind if their hearts were in the right place, but, they aren't. These people are bunch of self centred, over privileged coastal elites who are so screwed up that the old man in a dress is still the most balanced and level headed. It certainly is different, but, I really didn't like it.
30 out of 38 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Another pathetic boring American show
gogga101127 October 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Recipe for awards in America today: For the story take a sex change or homosexuals (who are always positives and very emotional even though in reality is not always the case), for the main roles select Jews (producers and directors, as well), and call the pathetic drama comedy or sitcom. Definitely, if it is the film - it will guaranteed gets an Oscar, and if it is the series then it'll gets all other awards. And all series of similar topics. Because now it is in the United States very popular and politically correct to celebrate homosexuality, more than anything else. So by default in each recent American series must be at least one homosexual character, and this character must be a genuine good guy. Movie gay can't be killer, psycho or anything dark like that, but when is (very rarely), that character is usually somehow sympathetic and very emotional. I do not mind someone's sexual orientation, but constant glorification of someone's sexual orientation is disgusting. I know, this is "Hollywood" but I'm tired of pathetic political correctness and patterns because already all series and movies began to look like one another as peas in a pod! Beneath the seemingly unusual surface, this show is full of stereotypes and actually empty, boring. But "Hollywood" likes it and will make you all to love it too.
27 out of 34 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Another example of the press being totally wrong
jinchelsea26 December 2015
As an older gay man, I have great admiration and respect for the transgendered community, but I think that the press reviewers of TRANSPARENT are bending way over backwards to cheer this cheerless dramedy. Tambor, who is not an actor I have much liked in the past, is really excellent as the trans dad; he brings real poignance to a show that has little heart for the rest of its characters. The characters of the children are caricatures; none of them are real or honest or worthy of our time, just a bunch of spoiled, miserable people who inflict their misery on others. No one, not even loving parents, would put up with them for a moment, and none of the goings-on are real enough or funny enough to touch or entertain us. Even the wonderful Judith Light has nothing but clichés to play.

I doggedly went on to season 2, and it only got worse. After 5 episodes, I am done.
78 out of 114 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Profoundly disappointing and vastly over-hyped
Skeptic-85 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Sympathetic to the subject matter of the show - gender fluidity and exploration - I eagerly binge-watched Transparent over three nights. Rarely have I been so disappointed.

Nearly every character is screechingly awful in his/her own way. They corner the market in "selfs" - self-regarding, self-conscious, self-absorbed, self-interested, selfish. I wouldn't want to share a sidewalk with any of them, much less a friendship or a life.

While fictional characters are often awful people, there is usually something redeeming about their interactions, explorations, or character growth that propels their arc into a highly-touted show. Not so here.

The overarching sensibility of the show is, dispiritingly, "naughtiness." The writers clearly vied to outdo one another in breaking media taboos, referencing or showing "female squirting," "cameltoe," female pubic hair and oral sex performed on women. But instead of seeming refreshingly open or subversive, it just felt like giggling eighth graders saying "dirty" things out behind the school to titillate their pals.

Worse, the main character, whose transition from male to female is ostensibly the subject of the series, is herself so flawed and unpleasant a personality that her quest for dignity as a woman is undercut both by her own boorishness and that of her harpy ex-wife and three revoltingly entitled and desperately cruel children, for whose personalities her character surely bears significant blame?

Lastly, I hope the production was written by Jews, because if not, it is the most desperately anti-Semitic thing I've seen in years. If Jews wrote this story, then they are not spreading cheer about their culture.
80 out of 120 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
At least I can say I tried
jm107017 March 2015
I kept watching and watching, hoping that as I got to know them I would begin to care about this extraordinarily shallow, spoiled and obnoxious bunch of people - or even to laugh at them for being so relentlessly revolting - but the opposite happened. By the middle of Episode 7 I loathed every one of them so deeply that I just wished The Big One would finally come along, pull the chain, and flush the entire state of California to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean where it belongs. Then it occurred to me that I didn't HAVE to watch this crap, so I stopped.

I love the idea behind this series, and it might have been really good if only there were at least one character I could stand to watch, or laugh at, or maybe even like. There isn't.

Tambor and Hoffman are excellent in roles that fit their talents so perfectly that it's hard now to imagine either of them ever playing any other characters. I do care about those two actors - especially, now, for the first time, Hoffman. I just don't care at all about either character. I wish I wished Maura well, but I just don't. I can't. She's too dishonest and shallow and selfish.

The other actors - with one notable exception - are all right but don't bring any personal depth to their tiresome, narcissistic characters, as Tambor and Hoffman do. The exception is Judith Light, whose restrained and sensitive performance in Save Me was a revelation. Here she shows no subtlety or intelligence at all, playing a Southern California Jewish matron so shrill and strident that the human being is completely lost in the stereotype.

Most of the writing is clever, the production is excellent, and the series might have been a real treat if I could only have cared about even ONE of the profoundly revolting characters.
61 out of 96 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
tenlegdragon31 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I get what they were going for. I really do, with the whole transvestite/transgender dad... but no.

All the critics are praising this, but I think it's mostly because the trans wagon is really in right now, and you're not cool anymore if you don't go trans because gay characters in shows have lost that good taboo feel.

That's what this feels like. Plot less and purposeless melodrama that no one really cares about. The characters, aside from their sexual proclivities have no hook to them. Nothing. Nothing to make them interesting. One daughter is falling back into lesbianism, the son is into grannies and masking it with a public love for teens, and there's another one who's into a very military buffed hot black dude. None of this is interesting, yet, I feel like when they were plotting out these characters that this was there starting idea and they'd just build from that.

"Hey, let's have a family of deviants, and then display all their emotions for about 10 episodes, for about 6 - 10 seasons." I feel like that was the pitch for this.

To me, a show must have a decent plot with at least one decent character to make a show worth watching. Or it must have some really exceptional scenery going on,(like Avatar). Transparent fails spectacularly at having characters you care about, and even worse it has no plot to fall back on. "Dad must come out as a transvestite/transsexual" to his family." That's the conflict here, and immediately you ask yourself "Are any of them in any position to judge him?" As I said, one is into grannies and the other is going back to lesbianism despite having a family and like 10 toddlers. The other one is basically a freeloader loser who is asking said dad for money after running through her "price is right" winnings. (Ironically, she's the only one remotely appealing, because the other daughter is sorta narcissistic and the brother makes comments about his sisters having barbecue sauce in their vaginas - because real family members say things like this over dinner)

No Plot + No Characters = me not caring

Also, my other point of disgruntlement, is the fact that IMDb wrote it up as a comedy. And, I don't think that anyone in this world would associate Tambor right now with anything not inherently funny. So I get that somebody along the way thought that this was a comedy.

BUT, there's nothing funny at all about this series except seeing Tambor in drag, which falls kinda in the cringe-comedy bucket, because Tambor is no Cillian Murphy/Jared Leto/Lee Pace.

That joke worked in Arrested Development, but that had the context to make it funny. That was a comedy.

Transparent is NOT a comedy. Maybe a dramedy, a bad one, but not a comedy. And it reeks of writers thinking "Oohh, this is so clever and fresh and raw and dark and deep", when it's actually just not any of these things.

I'd probably have given it a 5/10 or a 6/10 if it wasn't for stupid reviews building up my expectations. This is not fun. Not quirky. Not smart. Not clever. Not raw. Not dark. Not edgy. Not "real". Neither dramatic nor comedic. Just 29 minutes of "blah".
103 out of 172 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Every character is the scriptwriter's surrogate
Sam Knaip8 March 2015
The real problem with this show is the writing. Every single character is a projection of the writer's self onto the screen. Why is that a big issue? Because it blocks the immersion, and therefore, takes away all the potential fun. Someone might say "but the characters are all different!". Of course they are, but they are behaving according to a very specific set of rules: right out of post-modernist feminist handbooks. The spectator will find every kind of clichéd imaginable out of bourgeoisie delusions' about how gender is "constructed", often taken straight from John Money's theories and experiments and philosophers' such as Foucault. It really bothers me when the political affiliation of the writer is so evident that I can identify the political intention she had in mind when writing any given character. Writing should come from your guts, a great writer once said, otherwise it's phony. Writing shouldn't conform to you political sympathies or your inner guilt for having had a middle-class upbringing. I really like Jeffrey Tambor, though. I'm sure this show is an exercise of acting for him, in spite of the awful dialogue. I wonder if he realized he would be a mere foil to all of the others author's surrogates… It's okay to find alter egos of the writer when the writer himself is a part of the show. 30 Rock did this amazingly, and so did Curb your Enthusiasm. But Tina Fey and Larry David are incredibly able creative minds, and they won't hesitate to sacrifice their political views for a joke: they'll do everything to achieve the punchline, they won't distort the punchline in order to conform it to liberal views of the world or political correctness ("political correctness" is anything that was corrected to a given political dogma, be it the right or the left). To summarize, that's what bothers me the most on this show: every character line was written in such a way that they seem lifeless, they seem to be puppets that conform to the way the writer imagined the world to function. Unfortunately, writing for TV is different from writing your own diary and creating characters that fulfill your inner need for order in a chaotic world. This is why I really dislike this show.
79 out of 133 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Horribly overrated
jahgreen5 January 2015
The sheer unlikability and unreality of the other characters totally distracts from what could have been a funny, tender, and dramatic story about the Jeffrey Tambor character.

This show is straight out of current entertainment belief that if you make enough penis and vagina jokes, or say f*** enough times, that's enough to be funny. "Hey, let's write a bunch of 'spit roast' jokes, that'll be a scream." What it really means is that the writers are lazy and just want to go for the scandalous and shocking rather than excellence. Then they claim that they should get awards for being scandalous and shocking, even when it's crappy scandal and shock.

Too bad, as there is an excellent show somewhere under all the superficial dreck the writers put on the screen. You just can't see it.
71 out of 119 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Absolute tripe...
Tom Spencer12 December 2015
It's hard to imagine the levels of narcissism and pettiness required to write the words these actors read on screen. If you could take all of the pointless, self-indulgent, pretentious fluff from every pedestrian soap opera and combine it into one show you would end up with Transparent.

Tambor is easy to enjoy, as per usual, but no other performance stood out. And, for the record, Tambor's character is so cringe-worthy it hardly makes watching his acting worth the rest of the show.

I imagine this is the type of writing you would get from any typical American teenager with ego problems; vapid with a myopic and self- serving view of the human condition. If you're not going to write even one character worth rooting for, your show ought to have some intrigue, mystery, action, or psychological stimulation. Transparent offers none of these things so we're left with a troupe of horrible characters adrift in a sea of pointless drama.

The only activity worse than subjecting yourself to Transparent is acknowledging the fact that it is critically acclaimed, and asking yourself the obvious questions as to how this is possible, and what that says about the general viewing public.

1/10 stars, the one is only for Tambor
43 out of 69 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews