Amazon Instant has rolled out a slew of new pilots, as they did last year, that will once again allow its viewers to vote on which of the lot is the best. Amazon will make a choice about which pilots to pick up based on voting. This year Amazon has by most accounts stepped up its game with its offerings, including a high-profile one from The X-Files’ Chris Carter, The After, which has been receiving mostly negative reviews. The best? Jeffrey Tambor’s Transparent. It is fantastic. Here’s why:
1. The premise is compelling. It centers a family of five with a lot of secrets, which were teased in the pilot. The biggest of those secrets? The father, Jeffrey Tambor, is in the midst of his transition from turning from a man into a woman (and Tambor is a terrific woman). However, he can’t bring himself to tell his adult children. As for those adult children, one is seemingly happily married to a man, but an old lesbian crush from college reignited those lady feelings, while another daughter who is irresponsible with money may have an S&M fetish, and the son is likely a sex addict.
2. It comes from Jill Soloway. Solloway was one of the main writers behind one of my all-time favorite television shows, Six Feet Under, and she is describing Transparent as a similar kind of show. Instead of being about a family magnetized around death, it’s a family magnetized around sex and love and intimacy. The pilot, indeed, feels very much like that, especially in the sibling relationships.
3. The cast is phenomenal. It’s not a lot of huge names, but most of them are familiar, great comedic actors, including Jeffrey Tambor, Gabby Hoffman (who can currently be seen in Girls), Jay Duplass (brother and writing/directing partner of Mark Duplass (The League)), and Rob Huebel (Burning Love, Children’s Hospital), who needs no introduction.
4. The creepy twin incest vibe? — Soloway compares the twins, played by Gaby Hoffman and Jay Duplass, to Brenda and Billy in Six Feet Under, and you definitely get that feeling from the relationship (if you’re not familiar with Brenda and Billy, here’s a one word description of their relationship: “Squicky.”) Their secret may indeed be that they’ve messed around with each other in the past, but the show is comedic in nature so I wouldn’t expect it to get bogged down in the drama. Think more Maeby Fünke and George-Michael Bluth in tone).
5. Because of Judith Light. Judith Light, who we remember from Who’s the Boss, plays the ex-wife of Tambor’s character. She’s remarried to an older man who has already lost the ability to talk. Also, Judith Light is FANTASTIC, in ways we’ve never seen her. She’s an old, nattering woman who fusses about everything, and she is hilarious. I had no idea she had this character in her.