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O My America: Queer Jews Go Mainstream

October 11, 2014

“I’ve a Feeling We’re Not In Kansas Any MOre”

by Lawrence Bush Amazons-Transparent-A-Civil-Rights-MovementA father comes out to his three grown children as a transvestite. (His ex-wife already knows.) He wants to go full-time in women’s clothing and be referred to as “she.” His son wants to have babies with the new woman rabbi — who goes ahead and has sex with him. One daughter, mother of two cuties, leaves her husband for a suave lesbian lover from her earlier days. Another daughter, pansexual, moody and masochistic, especially enjoys being bossed around by a transsexual man with a beard and a vagina. This family is Jewish! And they say so! All of this, on television? Hard to believe! Transparent is a ten-part comedy series produced by Amazon, and written and directed by Jill Soloway (who notes: “The socialist in me welcomes the kind of democratization these platforms are bringing to our creative community and the viewing public. I feel like I’m part of this creative revolution, like an Arab Spring — but let’s call it an Auteur T.V. Spring — sweeping across the land.”) Her show is filled with tenderness, confusion, disclosure, intimacy, hurt, desire — and, surrounding it all, humor. I laughed before I had time to wonder if it’s okay to laugh. I laughed while shifting in my seat. I laughed while learning. I laughed while unlearning. The last two words of the ten-episode, five-hour comedy are “Oy gevald.” Within such a family, what in the world could evoke this classic Jewish sigh? You’ll have to watch to find out, and I doubt that you’ll stop watching once you begin. Given its uniqueness, I expect that Transparent will be politically critiqued from many directions — it is NOT politically correct in anybody’s world. Which is just one of the reasons why the series has such transformative power. Lawrence Bush edits Jewish Currents.