After last weekend’s Emmy celebration, one thing is clear: Transparent continues to be a comedy almost preternaturally calibrated for our time. Arriving amongst a mountain of rave reviews (and its fair share of controversy) just two years ago, it’s difficult to imagine the TV landscape without the Pfefferman family and their achingly real matriarch Moira (Jeffrey Tambor), whose trans journey provides the show with its rich, central axis. As a family drama that eschews artifice, showiness, and traditional conceptions of the television comedy, Transparent continues to depict sexuality and self-expression in ways that feel consistently fresh and, frankly, important.
The third season finds Moira on the cusp of achieving everything she’s ever wanted. After two seasons of self-realization, romantic entanglements and plenty of heartbreak, things are finally looking up. But series creator Jill Soloway is nowhere near finished with the Pfefferman clan at large. Expanding the world of Transparent rapidly by happily plunging into complex pools of identity that had previously remained untouched, Season 3 holds nearly as many growing pains as it does earned moments of healing in a way that feels true to life.
At a recent press day for Transparent, series creator Soloway, alongside stars Jeffrey Tambor (Moira Pfefferman), Judith Light (Shelly), Jay Duplass (Josh), Amy Landecker (Amy), Gaby Hoffman (Ali), Kathryn Hahn (Raquel Fein), Trace Lysette (Shea) and Alexandra Billings (Davina) discussed the upcoming third season, how the series will explore the Pfefferman’s past, the unique approach to production the cast used in Season 3, and Soloway’s plans for the rest of the series:
- Season 3 will continue the show’s history of connecting current anxieties to the past. This time, we’ll delve into Moira’s youth, set largely during the U.S. Cold War, to specifically exploit the bomb scare zeitgeist of the ‘50s.
- The actress set to appear as a young Moira will be trans.
- Soloway will tackle the topic of “intersectionality” this season, particularly the dialogue concerning race. “It is a tightrope,” she admitted, “because I’m interpreting that story, not reflecting.” But nonetheless, we see Transparent dipping its toe into issues of race relations within the first few episodes.
Moira’s storyline this season could best be described as “becoming.” Moira admits in the very first episode that despite finally having achieved everything she could want, she’s still unhappy. “That could be a name for Moira’s story,” Soloway explained. ”Just, ‘what now?’”
- Soloway has always imagined Transparent would air for 6 seasons, calling Season 3 the beginning of the second act, if the show were a film.
- Alexandra Billings calls Season 3 “the season of Shea,” the character played by trans actress Trace Lysette. This season, we’ll get more insight into her life, as well as seeing her move into a new job.
- Shea and Josh (Jay Duplass) will begin a romantic relationship, a partnering Lysette describes as “wholesome.”
- Kathryn Hahn, who appears in the show as the Pfefferman’s rabbi, said the third season’s theme is “’what is your story?’ And I think Raquel loses that thread. But she picks it up again.”
- Billings says she would rate Tambor’s performance this season “a B+” – then clarified, “Jeffrey’s performance is so near perfection, it’s almost frightening.”
- Sarah and Raquel will grow closer than ever this season, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. Hahn describes Sarah as Raquel’s “Lilith, this amazing vine-y id” that grows in her life.
Sarah will further explore her bisexuality (and the labeling of her sexuality in general) in Season 3.
- There may be hope for Raquel and Josh, but not immediately. ”Their souls just keep not aligning,” Hahn revealed.
- Shelly will struggle to be apart from Moira in Season 3. “Shelly wants to be with Moira,” Light explained. “This season, we go back in time and you’ll see that even more, that ongoing dynamic between the two of them.”
- After a traumatic Season 2, Raquel will experience a crisis of faith this season. “Which is the worst, because that’s who she is,” lamented Hahn.
- On the production side of Season 3, there were some major changes as well. Augmenting Soloway’s characteristically warm behind-the-scenes style is now “the box.” Using a literal soapbox to gather the crew on set before shooting, Landecker described the experience of “the box” like this: “We go, ‘box, box, box,’ and someone gets up on the box and shares some story that’s relevant to them in their life. Someone could be ill in their family, or there was a wedding, or there was a personal revelation or they’re being forced on the box because they don’t really speak. And I’m telling you, guest stars, I don’t exaggerate, cry when they leave our set because they’re so upset they don’t get to stay. The rest of the business doesn’t work that way.”
Transparent Season 3 arrives on Amazon September 23.