×

‘Transparent’ Without Jeffrey Tambor? Unimaginable but Possible. Here’s How

As the controversy surrounding the conduct of Jeffrey Tambor on the set of “Transparent” deepens, the speculation intensifies that the Amazon Prime series could conceivably move on to its next season without the star in tow.

It’s a possibility that might seem unthinkable to even the casual observer of this groundbreaking, critically acclaimed dramedy. Tambor has multiple Emmys and Golden Globe awards-that testify to how integral he is to “Transparent” — no small feat coming from a series on what was then a new streaming service.

But given the show is centered on Tambor’s role as a middle-aged professor who learns to embrace her transgender identity, removing the character of Mort/Maura Pfefferman is a high-risk move were “Transparent” to continue.

But it’s also possibly the only way Jill Soloway could go should the misconduct Tambor is alleged to be responsible for become an unacceptable distraction. The creator and executive producer of “Transparent” is an outspoken advocate of the progressive politics at the heart of the show, right down to the production that employs many transgender people at all levels. Unfortunately, it’s two transgender employees who are now stepping forward to accuse Tambor of behavior that Soloway would undoubtedly regard with zero tolerance.

However, a fifth season of “Transparent” without Tambor’s character is more conceivable when you consider the evolution of the series over the years.

What started out a series in which Maura Pfefferman was the clear focal point in its earliest days has made a subtle shift in ensuing seasons. “Transparent” has become more of an ensemble with every passing year, and the spotlight that shone so brightly on Tambor in the beginning has dimmed over time as his cast mates began to command more attention.

It’s a transition that has worked well for the series because the supporting cast behind Tambor may not match the rapturous level of acclaim he’s garnered, but they’re no slouches, either. There’s nary a weak link among Jay Duplass, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker, Judith Light and a growing roster that fill out the universe the Pfefferman clan inhabits.

Now that “Transparent” is a more evenly distributed display of talent, it can withstand the loss of such a pivotal character.

But what’s also true about the series is that the departure of Maura Pfefferman can make sense as an organic extension of where the narrative was already headed. As “Transparent” explores in its fourth season, the gender confusion that Tambor’s character has pretty much come out the other side on is just beginning to take root in Pfefferman’s daughter Ali, played by Hoffmann. On a series that is so heavily geared toward exploring intergenerational themes, the notion that transgender issues could be examined from a fresh perspective through Ali’s eyes could actually be just the shot in the arm “Transparent” needs.

Like any series heading into a fifth season amid the crowded competitive field of the Peak TV era, “Transparent” needs to find a way to seem fresh. Truth be told, the groundswell of love that critics lavished on the series in its early days that was so crucial to its success has dissipated considerably (count me in the minority as someone who found the fourth season to reflect a show still at the top of its game).

All that said, removing Maura Pfefferman remains a gigantic risk for one simple reason: the star is the star is the star of the show. The chemistry of any great series is so fragile that even the slightest adjustment has repercussions.

But don’t be surprised if “Transparent” manages to pull off such an unlikely feat.

More TV

  • Capturing Big Mouth

    Previewing Berlin’s CoPro Series 2020 Projects

    Tuesday see’s the Berlin Film Festival play host to the sixth edition of its Co-Pro Series Pitch and Networking event, where 10 exciting TV projects from around the world will pitch to potential co-producers, investors, sales agents and broadcasters. Under the umbrella of the Berlinale Co-Production Market – dedicated to connecting feature film producers and [...]

  • Romulus

    ITV Studios European TV Drama Push Boosted by ‘Romulus’ Pre-Sales (EXCLUSIVE)

    BERLIN — ITV Studios push into European drama has been boosted by pre-sales on “Romulus” and a slew of deals across a burgeoning slate of non-English language productions as ITV Studios aims to position as a world-class player in global content production. Announced at this week’s Berlinale Series Market, the sales play off ITV Studios [...]

  • View of the harbor of Rotterdam,

    Dutch Features Launches Crime Miniseries 'Black Nazareth' at Berlin Market (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sales agent Dutch Features has boarded crime miniseries “Black Nazareth,” and has started sales on it at the European Film Market in Berlin. The Dutch miniseries, which is in development, follows a customs officer in the port of Rotterdam who is drawn into a criminal operation while trying to deal with the terminal illness of [...]

  • Snow

    Film House Germany's Gabriela Bacher To Exec Produce Witcraft's 'Snow' Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    L.A. and Berlin-based producer Gabriela Bacher, CEO of media company Film House Germany, is attached to executive produce Witcraft Filmproduktion’s mystery drama project “Snow,” selected for this year’s Co-Pro Series at the Berlinale Co-Production Market. Bacher, a former Fox International Productions executive and principal of Studio Babelsberg, joined the company in 2011 as both CEO [...]

  • Animation Company Riki Buys 'The Fixies'

    Animation Company Riki Buys 'The Fixies' Producer Aeroplane (EXCLUSIVE)

    Leading Russian animation company Riki Group, home of brands such as “Kikoriki” and “BabyRiki,” has acquired Aeroplane Prods., the producer of cartoon franchise “The Fixies.” In Berlin, Riki Group is selling “Finnick,” a feature film about a mischievous furry creature who plays pranks on the family who lives in his house. The company’s stand is [...]

  • Stateless

    Netflix Swoops In for Global Rights to Cate Blanchett Refugee Drama 'Stateless' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Netflix has swooped in and taken global rights outside Australia to the Cate Blanchett-starring and exec-produced refugee drama series “Stateless,” following its world premiere in Berlin this week. Australian public broadcaster ABC, which commissioned the six-part series, will air “Stateless” on March 1, with the streaming giant going out later this year. It is believed [...]

  • Dome 16

    Holland’s Big Blue Boards Norwegian NRK Sci-fi Series ‘Dome 16’ (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Dome 16,” a futuristic sci-fi climate drama from creator Thomas Seeber Torjussen and Norway’s Tordenfilm, has a new co-producer in Fleur Winters from Dutch production house Big Blue. It’s the second time the companies have joined forces, previously co-producing NRK’s popular teenage series “ZombieLars.” In addition to creating the series, International Emmy nominee Seeber Torjussen [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content