Wednesday, October 01, 2014

A Year Later, TV

It's been over a year since I've written here but good news! I still want to talk about teevee. And other stuff. But mostly tv.

Fall is here, which means a bunch of new shows are starting. Thanks to the growing field of made-for-streaming, I have already watched the entire season of a new fall show, Transparent. Transparent follows the story of Mort Pfefferman, a retired professor living in LA near his three grown children and ex-wife. Mort, played by Jeffrey Tambor (George Sr in Arrested Development, one of his many plum roles), is ready to share a secret he's lived with his whole life: he has always felt that he is a woman and at age 70, wants to begin living openly as Maura.

Tambor beautifully captures the excitement, anxiety, and fear of this transition. Mort is most concerned about sharing the news with his three grown children: Sarah (Amy Landecker), Josh (Jay Duplass) and Ali (Gaby Hoffman). Each of the kids has their own storyline unfolding along with their father's revelation, all engaging enough stories but--these kids are awful. Spoiled, self-involved, entitled and truly terrible. There are seeds of redemption dropped toward the end of the first season in each of their story lines which will hopefully bear fruit in the second season. Fingers crossed, because those kids are hard to watch.

To the writers' credit, Tambor's character isn't a saint; in flashbacks we see that he sacrificed his family in his effort to make space for some expression of his true identify. Judith Light is pretty great as Mort/Maura's ex-wife and Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney/Portlandia plays Ali's best friend. Helping Maura through her transition with humor and grace is Alexandra Billings as Davina, neighbor and friend.

I watched all ten episodes of Transparent in 3 days. Ready for season 2.

Next up: How to Get Away with Murder, new show by Shonda Rhimes, of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. I'm not a fan of Rhimes' shows: Grey's is ridiculous and Scandal is preposterous. Murder is a very similar show as Scandal, really: tough woman surrounded by adoring minions eager to do her bidding to prove they are the most loyal. Viola Davis is a much better actor than Kerry Washington, however she doesn't have that much to work with, dialogue wise.

I *just* realized that all of these characters are basically Debbie Allen in Fame. Where she thumped her stick in the opening and told them all they were going to sweat and they were all a little afraid but wanted to please her?

Feel pretty pleased with myself for making that connection.

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