It’s taken decades for gay characters to become mainstays on American television, and the transgender community is making its own recent progress in transitioning from one-off appearances in procedural dramas to fleshed-out regular characters. Of course, it’s usually non-transgender actors playing the roles, which is definitely the case for the upcoming Amazon pilot Transparent, which landed Jeffrey Tambor in the leading role, according to Deadline. Take a few seconds to try and figure out the title’s oh-so-clever pun.
The Transparent pilot will focus on Mort (Tambor), a parent who sits down for a revealing talk with his three adult children, who assume that financial inheritances are involved. Instead, Mort tells them that he’s been leading a secret life as a transgender, which, as you may imagine, turns everyone’s lives upside down. Relationships change, and everyone is forced to look at their lives through a completely different filter. Gabby Hoffman, who stars as the titular character in Sebastián Silva’s Crystal Fairy, has signed on to play Ali, one of Mort’s daughters. The other two children, Sarah and Joshua, have yet to be cast.
Jill Soloway, who wrote and directed the soon-to-release indie Afternoon Delight, is also writing and directing the pilot. Soloway has written and produced for such shows as Six Feet Under, United States of Tara and Grey’s Anatomy. Interestingly, she also worked on a few episodes of Dirty Sexy Money, which featured the first ever primetime role for a transgender character (Carmelita) as actually played by a transgender actress (Candis Cayne).
Tambor is apparently happy with working on non-network television, as this will be his third streaming website series that he’ll be working on in just a year’s time. He of course masterfully returned to his role as the patriarchal George Bluth for the fourth season of Netflix’s Arrested Development. As well, he played the head of a news network in the Amazon pilot Onion News Empire, which hasn’t yet been given a greenlight or a red light. Should Amazon indeed turn Onion News Empire into a full series, Tambor will be in both series. Nothing wrong with that. It’s worth noting he was a part of the unaired series Next Caller for NBC, which filmed four episodes before being cancelled due to disputes with star Dane Cook.
On the film front, Tambor was recently reprised his role as Sid for The Hangover Part III, and will be starring in the comedy drama For Better or Worse and the comedy Trouble Dolls. He’ll also be lending his voice to Kevin Konrad Hanna’s sci-fi animation The Clockwork Girl as well as Henry Selick’s next macabre stop-motion animation The Shadow King.
It’s worth noting that transgender actress Laverne Cox made quite a name for herself last month as Sophia Burset on the Netflix Original series Orange is the New Black, which tactfully handled her relationship with a woman she married while she was still a man. I’ll give Soloway all the credit in the world if she can make Transparent a show that appeals to the masses. Tambor in the lead won’t hurt at all.