Transparent Season 4: More Than Maura
Transparent is the complicated, messy, deep, and hilarious show that I never realized I needed. I find myself drawing many similarities to my own life and family. Upon its release of Season 4 on Amazon Prime last Friday, I naturally spent my entire Saturday on the couch, devouring episode after episode.
Which, after some time to digest, led to a Sunday of me asking everyone I know if they had seen it so we could discuss.
This is when I realized something. For those of my friends who hadn’t watched Transparent, they thought of it as “the one about the transgender lady”. While this isn’t untrue, the show has grown so much over the past four seasons that there is no justice in such a light description.
Yes, Jeffrey Tambor plays Maura, a transgender woman formerly known as ‘Mort’ to her ex-wife and ‘Dad’ to her three adult children, but creator Jill Soloway does such a fantastic job of shifting past the initial phase of Mort’s transition to Maura and on to Maura’s everyday life.
Soloway doesn’t stop there either—we get to delve even deeper into the rest of the family’s lives. By the end of Season Four it is clear that Transparent is less a show about a “transgender lady”, and more of a real and raw dramedy about a family getting lost in their past as they try to realize and resolve their individual issues.
We see this shift most heavily between mother and son; the storylines of Shelly (Judith Light) and Josh Pfefferman (Jay Duplass) gave the show an incredible amount of depth this season.
First of all, I cannot and will never get enough of Judith Light. She does a glorious job portraying Maura’s ex-wife, Shelly Pfefferman. She’s neurotic, caring and effortlessly hilarious as the original Pfefferman matriarch.
A quick digression: I was obsessed with her in the last scene of the Season 3 finale. If you haven’t seen it, reprioritize your life accordingly—this scene made for one of greatest, most satisfying season finales I’ve ever encountered.
Shelly moves in with Josh after ending things with her Season 3 boyfriend. This pairing is nothing less than a perfectly calculated stroke of Soloway genius.
Both Shelly and Josh had been struggling with similarly dark and life-shaping events they experienced in childhood. Whether or not it’s the presence of each other in the other’s life, over the course of this season, they are both more head-on with the reality of what they experienced and make major steps to move forward in life.
The narrative that follows these two were a strong reminder that Jill Soloway’s Transparent is far more than a look into a trans woman’s life. It’s a look into the life of a parent, a child, survivors and above all, a family in the midst of figuring it all out.