×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘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

  • Jussie Smollett The Black AIDS Insitute

    Jussie Smollett Case: Two Suspects Released Without Charging as New Evidence Emerges

    After two days of questioning, the Chicago Police Department announced Friday evening that it has released two suspects in the Jussie Smollett case without filing charges. On Friday evening, police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said that detectives had developed new information through the interviews. “Due to new evidence as a result of today’s interrogations, the individuals [...]

  • GOTHAM: L-R: Guest star Cameron Monaghan

    TV News Roundup: Fox Drops 'Gotham' Final Season Trailer (Watch)

    In today’s TV news roundup, Fox released a new trailer for an upcoming episode of “Gotham” and Disney has announced the cast for its upcoming “High School Musical” series.  FIRST LOOKS Showtime released a new trailer and the official poster for the upcoming fourth season of “Billions,” premiering March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. In [...]

  • Chris Rock

    Chris Rock to Direct Kenan Thompson Comedy Pilot at NBC

    Chris Rock has come onboard to direct the NBC single-cam comedy pilot “Saving Kenan,” Variety has learned. Rock will also executive produce the pilot, which stars “SNL” mainstay Kenan Thompson. Thompson will play a newly widowed dad determined to be everything for his kids while begrudgingly letting his persistent father-in-law become more involved in their lives [...]

  • Peak TV Saturation TV Placeholder

    Apollo Global Management Buys Majority Stake in Cox TV Stations

    Private equity giant Apollo Global Management has cut a deal with Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises to buy a majority stake in Cox’s 13 TV stations as well as three newspapers and a handful of radio stations in Ohio. Apollo has been in the hunt for broadcast TV stations for some time. Cox’s station group, which includes [...]

  • Ken Jeong TV Take Podcast

    Listen: Ken Jeong on His Return to Stand-Up and New Netflix Special

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s episode, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, talks with Ken Jeong about his Netflix comedy special, “Ken Jeong: You Complete Me, Ho,” and being a judge on Fox’s “The Masked Singer.“ Jeong started working on his new standup act after ABC canceled his show “Dr. [...]

  • "Brother" -- Episode 201-- Pictured (l-r):

    CBS Interactive's Marc DeBevoise on Streaming Boom, Content Strategy, and Apple

    Not everyone wants or needs to be Netflix to succeed in the streaming space. And not everyone sees Apple’s enigmatic new service as a threat. Even as rival streaming services offer gobs of content, CBS Interactive’s president and COO Marc DeBevoise sees the company’s targeted original programming strategy continuing to attract viewers to its All [...]

  • Ken Jeong to Star in CBS

    Ken Jeong to Star in CBS Comedy Pilot From 'Crazy Rich Asians' Author Kevin Kwan

    A “Crazy Rich Asians” reunion is happening at CBS. Ken Jeong has been cast in a lead role in the multi-camera comedy pilot “The Emperor of Malibu,” which is being co-written and executive produced by “Crazy Rich Asians” author Kevin Kwan. In the series, Auggie, the son of a Chinese tech billionaire, announces his engagement [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content