Saturday, September 30, 2017

TV Show Review: Transparent (Season 4)

The Pfeffermans head to Israel in this delightful fourth season of the powerful Amazon comedy series. Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor) is invited to lecture in Tel Aviv on Judaism and gender. When Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) learns that her professor with whom she had a relationship has written and published an embarrassing poem, she decides to tag along with Maura. They head out to Israel having trouble in the airport when security can't decide which gender of TSA agent should search her. The family gathers in the first episode and it is chaotic. Shelly (Judith Light) explores improv and develops a new character that gives her strength and confidence. Sarah (Amy Landecker) explores her sexuality with her ex-husband Len Novak (Rob Huebel) and a woman she meets in a sex addicts group, Lila (Alia Shawkat).

Josh Pfefferman (Jay Duplass) copes with visions of the older woman who took advantage of him when he was younger and also attends the sex addict meetings as well. As Maura lectures, she keeps hearing about another Pfefferman who had a catchy advertisement years ago for air-conditioning. The "cool guy" turns out to be Maura's father Moshe (Jerry Adler) who abandoned them when they were young and went to Israel. Ali has garnered fame for her internet video of Maura at the airport and falls in with a group of protesters who are trying to make a difference in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She returns to help Maura approach Moshe who has become wealthy off of his air-conditioning business.

Moshe offers to fly out the rest of the family so they can all meet one another and explore the country. Ali struggles with the conflict and does not like the glib way Moshe treats the Palestinians. The other family members arrive and they travel around Israel fighting with each other and exploring the famous sites like the wall. Ali confides in Maura that she is not sure of her place in the world. When Sarah and Len decide to take a detour into an Israeli settlement to visit Lila's mother, Ali grows upset and leaves the tour. Josh speaks with Moshe's security guard who takes him out shooting in the desert. When Josh accidentally aims a gun at Shelly, it sparks a confession of a past incident that she had kept a secret but had been dramatized in a previous episode.

The Pfefferman's trip heads to the dead sea but Ali explores the Palestinian camp to find it abandoned after leaving her romantic interest and activist. As the Pfefferman's leave, Ali decides to stay and participate in more activism. Sarah and Len decide to end the relationship with Lila and at first, it seems like an easy breakup as Lila has found someone else but they all fall back into bed and Len does not pull out fast enough so there could be more to that next season. Maura's friend Davina (Alexandra Billings) has an interesting subplot as her illness progresses and her relationship breaks down, she is in need of a place. Maura rented out the house to an Airbnb customer but it leads to controversy, especially when Maura returns. The show comes to a funny and heartfelt conclusion making this season another great addition to one of the best streaming comedy shows out there.

Amazon knows they have hit the jackpot with Transparent led by Jeffery Tambor's wonderful performance and an amazing supporting cast. The Pfefferman family has plenty of issues and history and they deal with them as any family would. Maura's transition has set the family off on their own exploration and each child and her wife have various journeys that are both moving and hilarious. I was glad that I caught up with this show sometimes last year and now can review the new season as it came out. I look forward to watching more seasons in years to come. 

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