Review: Transparent S1 E3

“Being alive is being sad”


The third episode of Transparent is an emotional one. It’s quite sad but at the same time it’s quite endearing.

The Pfeffermans are all dealing with their personal demons: Maura tries to come out to Josh but finds it too hard; Sarah finally accepts she is once again in love with Tammy; Josh faces rejection and loss at the hands of his Glitterish girlfriend; and Ali tries to explore her sexual nature with hilariously bad results.

It’s an episode about loss and soldiering on. Some losses are greater than others but they’re all actively shaping these characters. It’s Josh and Sarah, though, who seemed to have lost the most. Both of them begin the episode with smiles on their faces and by the end they are filled with regret and emptiness. But, as always, there’s hope for them yet. Like Ali’s cab driver told her, “being alive is being sad”. Luckily no one is sad forever.

In flashbacks we are given snippets of Maura’s life when she was a man and how much of herself she had been sacrifing all her life. Last week we saw her, as professor Mort Pfefferman in the 1980s, wanting to wear a dress and eventually discarding it all together. This week we see Mort buying transsexual porn, a way to satisfy his needs when she was a man. It is a powerful little moment that shows us how much she needed to be accepted.

Rillon’ is a great episode in an equally great show. There’s a buildup going on too. Not just Maura coming out to the important people in her life, and society in general, there’s something else underneath. Something big is coming.

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