Transparent Season 3

Jill SolowayUSA88 minutes201614AColourEnglish

The Festival is proud to premiere the first three episodes from the new season of Jill Soloway’s Emmy-winning comedy-drama, starring the brilliant Jeffrey Tambor as transgender retiree Maura Pfefferman.

By now, most of us know the story of the Pfeffermans, the upper-middle-class Jewish family from LA whose lives were opened up in unexpected ways when they learned that the person they knew as father and husband Mort was transgender. Breaking taboos by leaps and bounds, Jill Soloway's moving and hilarious show has become a cultural phenomenon. The Festival is proud to help usher in the return of the hit series with its most affecting season yet.

The opening of Season 3 finds Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) in existential crisis, living in a cloud of unfulfillment despite having everything she's always wanted in life. She begins volunteering at an LGBTQ crisis hotline, but meanwhile, her children are working through their own crises. Now a successful music mogul, Josh (Jay Duplass) is struggling to cope after his breakup with the thoughtful Rabbi Raquel (Kathryn Hahn), while his sister Sarah (Amy Landecker) seeks spiritual guidance in her continuing friendship with the Rabbi. The youngest, Ali (Gaby Hoffmann), is lost in her own relationship confusion, and their other mother, Shelley (Judith Light), seeks a way to express her own story to the world.

Soloway, coming from a background of independent feature filmmaking, cleverly plays with the story structure episode by episode while maintaining just the right tone for a seasonal throughline. The show's quintet are endearing as they stumble and succeed through the process of self-discovery — an awkward one at any age — and they're orbited by a radiant cast of side characters. Any viewer can drop into the show at any time without knowledge of the previous episodes, because we aren't simply following the Pfeffermans' stories; we're getting to know them as people. Transparent reminds us that no family, nor any single member of that family, is truly "normal" — whatever that means.

MICHAEL LERMAN

Female Director