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‘Transparent’ Team Talks ‘Transformative Energy’ of Trans Community

As Amazon Prime Video prepares to send off “Transparent” with a musical finale movie on Sept. 27, the cast and creative team behind the show are hoping the impact of a character such as Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) will not be overshadowed by the controversy that the actor who portrayed Maura caused.

“I believe that Maura stood for that [LGBTQ fight for equality] whole heartedly. And that would not have happened unless she had been blessed by a truly gifted actor. And that among all things that have happened and behavior that has happened, that is worth remembering,” Alexandra Billings said at the Tribeca TV Festival closing night panel for the show Sunday.

Tambor was fired from the show in early 2018 after sexual harassment claims were made against him by actresses on the show. He had portrayed Maura for four seasons, earning two Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe for the performance of the head of the Pfefferman family who came out as transgender to her family in the pilot episode.

Jill Soloway created the show after their own parent came out as transgender, and Judith Light sang Soloway’s praises on the panel for putting forth a show that set out to stand for equal rights.

“What was happening in the trans community was beginning to really come out of the shadows,” Light said of the early days of the show. “This was one more piece. It was like an arrow that was shot into the air, and we rode in on that — on that energy of what was and still is transformative.”

It is within that same spirit that the team behind “Transparent” put together the final piece of its story, as well.

“What I appreciate about what Jill is constantly talking about is that this is not an ending. This is a transition. And we don’t know what’s going to happen from here, but in every finishing is a beginning,” Light said.

For Soloway, one of the most interesting things about telling the Pfefferman family members’ individual stories has been Ari’s (Gaby Hoffman) nonbinary journey.

“When we first wrote the script…there were so many ‘they’ jokes and the script was filled with like, ‘Two nonbinary people walk into a bar. They order a martini. They also order Martini’ — like we were trying to make as much nonbinary jokes as possible,” Soloway said. “And by the time we got to filming, we were so used to just using the ‘they’ pronouns that we barely spoke about their gender. … And it kind of ended up not being the big joke that we kind of thought it was going to be.”

Soloway also noted that “time moves so quickly. Our culture is moving so quickly that it felt like it was just too late to make any jokes.”

But overall, Soloway shared they were just “so honored that I get to process my life in this form and that we all get to process in this form.”

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