So far, there are no signs of a sophomore slump. Amazon’s beloved Transparent returns on December 11th, but viewers were treated to the second season premiere on Monday night. After receiving critical acclaim (and an Emmy for star Jeffrey Tambor), surely there were skeptics out there who wondered if the second outing would match up or compare to the first season. Never fear. The Pfeffermans are blazing forward.
The premiere begins with one of the funniest openings I’ve ever seen. At the wedding of Sarah (Amy Landacker is truly underrated on this show) and Tammy, the photographer is trying to capture the perfect family portrait. Anyone who is familiar with the Transparent teaser trailer will recognize the sequence, but they might be surprised by how long it goes on. As everyone talks over one another and yells and argues, the camera simply sits there and observes. It’s probably wasn’t strictly scripted and creator Jill Soloway has trusted these actors to be there characters in this seemingly throwaway sequence. Everyone can relate to this amusing moment, and if this filled up the entire 29 minutes, I would have honestly sat there enthralled.
The first season finale ended with a funeral, so a very white wedding is a welcome opening. Family secrets are revealed, and hopefully this is only the beginning. As Sarah realizes that she doesn’t want to be married to Tammy, Maura and Ali confront figures from the past. For Maura, it’s her sister Bryna (played by Jenny O’Hara) who Maura describes as a “filing cabinet with hair.” After the wedding, Maura tries to make amends, but Bryna reminds us that people can still be hateful to your face even though you’re supposed to love your family members.
For Ali, it’s not as direct. In the middle of the reception, the merriment is transported to 1933 Berlin for a joyous rendition of “Hava Nagila” plays in both periods. In the past, the wedding (or party) is a collection of everyone’s celebrated differences. There seems to be trans people and allies as far as the eye can see. It swings back into the present and the vulnerability is still there. We have a lot way to go as people even if it seems we are making tremendous strides.
The episode ends with the camera slowly panning across the hotel room windows of these family members as everything winds down. This isn’t about Maura and her transition anymore. Everything is rippling out from the events of the first season, so I expect the rest of the Pfefferman clan will have more of a showcase in season two.
Welcome back, Pfeffermans.
Transparent Season Two will be fully available to Amazon Prime customers on December 11.