Friday night’s premiere of the series finale of “Transparent” at L.A. Live’s Regal theater felt like a family reunion for the Pfefferman clan.
Matriarch Judith Light embraced each one of her TV children (Gaby Hoffman, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass) and guest stars from previous seasons (Cherry Jones, Melora Hardin, Bradley Whitford) who also turned up for a group photo to commemorate the occasion. And yet something — or rather someone — was noticeably missing: Jeffrey Tambor, the Emmy-winning actor who portrayed the titular characters, Maura Pfefferman, but was fired in 2017 following allegations of sexual harassment.
Not that his presence seemed to be missed. “Whoopee!” exclaimed creator Jill Soloway. “It feels like a gigantic celebration, like a hot air balloon going up in the sky.” And even though Soloway could have never predicted the way their series would end, it was always their intention to go out on a literal high note. “We thought about turning it into a musical in some way or another — we dreamed that there would be a musical on Broadway and we were having some of the characters sing,” they said.
Then they acknowledged the elephant in the room. “I think because of all the chaos — and all of the ways in which our show had to re-examine who we were — having a musical gave us a new path forward, a new reason to be. This isn’t just like putting a button on the series,” they said. “It’s kind of like transitioning — twirling and flying into a new direction.”
We probably haven’t seen the last of the Pfeffermans, as it turns out; Soloway shared tentative plans for the next family get-together. “I would love to do a sequel, a tri-quel, a Pfefferman family cruise for the Jewish high holidays, whatever! I’ll do anything,” they said before catching the eye of a biological family member. “Oh my God, look at my mom dragging around John Cameron Mitchell. That’s the sweetest thing,” they said, pointing out their mother and the actor who created “Hedwig: The Musical.”
Kathryn Hahn, for one, is open to reuniting with the cast. “Absolutely,” she told Variety. “As Jill has said, the show is transitioning — we’ll see what happens with this show down the road. I don’t think any of us are ready to say goodbye. Look around at these beautiful humans — it makes me want to start crying.”
Hahn promised that the finale will give fans all the feels. “When I was first told that it was going to be a musical, I thought, That’s the only way that this could possibly end — because there are no words. I felt it only can be sung at this point. It’s a combo of bittersweet and joyful and moving.”
For Duplass, making a musical proved to be nothing short of transformative. “You can say goodbye to the old me,” he told Variety. “I’m a song and dance man now, bro. I’m a knight of the theater.” And he’s come a long way in a short amount of time. “I learned how to be an actor,” he said, “because I really wasn’t one when the show started.”
There was one new member of the family in attendance: Trans actress and activist Shakina Nayfack, who reflected on the show’s problematic legacy due to the casting of Jeffrey Tambor. “It created a lot of controversy within the trans community because there was a cisgender actor playing a trans role, but it seemed like the only way to move forward at the time,” she recalled. But times have changed and the finale represents an amends of sorts for Nayfack, who steps into Tambor’s shoes. “Now we have a new way to look forward by making this movie musical and by bringing in this character who helps the family resolve some of the wrongs of the past.”