NBC, NPR Hype New Transgender Show on Amazon

Less than 1% of people identify as transgender yet fall TV is full of them.

As if it wasn’t already obvious how obsessed with “alternate sexuality” NBC is, talking endlessly about gay football players, and transgender beauty queens, Sept. 22’s Today show highlighted a new TV show all about a transgendered man.

Premiering Sept. 26, Amazon’s new original series “Transparent” features Jeffrey Tambor (“Arrested Development”) as Mort, a Jewish father who comes out as a woman, Maura, to his adult children, and the drama that follows.

The NBC panel raved about how “awesome” the show was, giving it “kudos,” and asking viewers to watch it. Today Show host Tamron Hall raved, “This is incredible T.V. It’s thoughtful. It’s engaging. It’s surprising. Congratulations!”

Tambor replied that it was the most “transformative role I’ve ever played” and he was “honored” to play it.

To this, Al Roker gushed, “I can only imagine!”

Tambor explained how “it was a huge responsibility” but he had “great consultants in the Trans community” to help him prepare for the role.

Of course, the liberal, feminist creator of “Transparent,” Jill Soloway, isn’t new to transgender issues.

Soloway told NPR in an interview posted today, that her own father came out as transgender in 2011.  She admitted, "For me to find out that after probably three decades, if not four decades, of struggling with questions about gender, it was actually kind of exciting and kind of freeing to know that I had this legacy of gender queerness in my family.”

Though Soloway did admit to getting a lot of pushback from transgenders for casting a non-transgender (“cis”) actor Tambor in the lead role. She managed to get over-a-dozen trans actors in speaking roles on the show, but even that wasn’t enough. She told NPR, “I really did become educated and become politicized to the problem of what it means to cast a cis male in a trans woman role.”

Soloway’s previous work includes writing for HBO’s  “Six Feet Under” and producing the ShowTime’s drama, “United States of Tara,” both of which dealt with gay and gender-bending issues.

She also wrote and directed the 2013 Sundance film “Afternoon Delight” about “privileged, educated women seduced by an idealized vision of marriage and motherhood, yet deadened by the stultifying realities of preschool auctions, lackluster sex lives, and careers that have gone kaput.” Yes, it sure sounds like she has a fond view of marriage.

Amazon’s “Transparent” isn’t the only transgender show coming out. Gay magazine “The Advocate” published a list of 19 shows airing this Fall with gay, lesbian and transgender characters.

— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.