"One family, no apologies" is the tag line printed across Amazon Prime's promotional poster for their new series Transparent. Ten thirty-minute episodes have been produced for the freshman season.
In the opener, Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) tells his grown children how much he loves them — the kids wonder if dad is dying of cancer.
Mort indeed has a secret, but it's not a terminal illness. After the kids leave, he steps into his bedroom. The camera remains fixed on the bedroom door as Maura steps out in Mort's place. Now dressed in a floor length, flowing mumu dress, she's about to come out as a transwoman.
And so begins the darkly comic family drama Transparent.
At a group therapy meeting, Maura bemoans the fact that she didn't have the courage to come out to her kids. Meanwhile, across town, Maura's daughter is arranging a play date between her child and the child of a lesbian mom. The two women, obviously old, platonic friends, appear to be developing an attraction to each other which clearly embarrasses both of them.
Transparent will be a story of many coming outs, as Maura's truth causes those around her to examine their own lives.
Judith Light, beloved to TV audiences for her long running roles on One Life to Live and Who's the Boss, plays Maura/Mort's unhappy ex-wife. Light is currently carrying quite a workload. In addition to Transparent, she's also appearing on TNT's reboot of Dallas. The actress spoke to SFGN about Transparent, and about her unwavering commitment to equality.
You stood up for gay rights and for people with AIDS long before it was safe or "cool" to do so What inspired you to do this?
My friends were dying. When I saw the homophobic, bigoted response to AIDS, when I saw how my friends were being treated, I needed to say something. What was happening was unconscionable. I wasn't a lone voice: other people like Elizabeth Taylor were also speaking up very powerfully and helping to heal the community.
Was there any concerns about harming your career by taking this stand?
We form our own families. This was my family, and they were being treated reprehensibly. People wrote to me and said "we'll never watch you again", so be it. I did this for my soul.
You've said that the LGBT community inspires you. In what way?
Light: I want to be a caregiver, like them. I want to be like the people who inspire me. I look at the lesbian community, how present and powerful they were in caring for gay men with AIDS. They were remarkable, I'd never seen anything like it. This is my truth, it's my experience.
Can you describe Transparent?
It's really out there! You'll love the people. Jeffrey Tambor is amazing! Amazon is taking a big chance but people are going to end up loving this family. What's universal about the series is that everyone has an issue in their family. Maura does something courageous that changes everyone's lives. Everyone can change to live an authentic life.
And so now you've added the trans community to those you support?
Absolutely. This is the LGBTQ community, the Queer community. Transgender people are teaching us to investigate and study what real gender identity means. The world has never looked at this before. The trans community are role models, they are teaching us about that.
Can you tell us about your Transparent character Shelley?
She's somebody wants to be heard. She wants to be understood, she wants so much for her own life to be different. She still loves her ex-husband, and is now with a husband who has dementia. She's trying to get a different life and doesn't know what to do. At times she's very lonely and deeply sorrowful.
Look for Transparent at Amazon Prime Instant Video on September 26. All ten episodes produced for the first season will be available for viewing on the premiere date.