Transparent, And Why Politics Is Anything But

26/09/2016 11:58

Amidst the whoops, cheers and hoopla (hold on, Ed Balls hasn't been voted off Strictly yet), does anyone genuinely believe that the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn is going to usher in a new era of political openness, honesty and sincerity?

Then they should sniff the air. The wind of change they think they currently smell is likely to quickly take on the altogether pongier whiff of a recently expelled fart by someone a bit too fond of scotch eggs and pickled onions. Even allowing for outdated working class stereotypes, that would no longer be hardline trade union leaders because they're now so highly paid, they are far likelier to be scoffing quails eggs and caramelised onion and shallot focaccia.

As has become abundantly clear, the main reason the MP for Islington North found himself so spectacularly back in power - of the puppet kind, one could speculate - is down to Momentum. Consider their name for a second or two. It's actually totally inappropriate since the dictionary definition of the word 'momentum' is the strength or energy something has when it is moving forward. Whereas this left wing grassroots organisation is simply helping Labour to go backwards.

The decision by the NEC not to allow MPs to choose the Shadow Cabinet is yet a further blow for those who were rather wishing that a version of the X Factor's Six Chair Challenge might have had a role in the selection making process. Diane Abbott singing Whitney's "I Have Nothing" was on the cards to be a winner.

Of course, the sad truth of the matter is that these days parties of whatever hue are closed, secretive and untrustworthy like never before.

But the good news is that as politics is getting less transparent (across the pond, it's presently at its most opaque), I'm delighted to report that from a purely entertainment perspective, television is getting more Transparent. Another 10 episodes to be precise.

The third season of the hit multi-award winning US show has just dropped onto Amazon and is available to binge on.

To anyone who missed the first two series and knows nothing about it, Transparent is a comedy, with its fair share of drama and pathos, that revolves around a Jewish L.A. based family called the Pfeffermann's, the patriarch of which has in the Autumn of his life come to the conclusion that after seven decades, he finally wants to be a woman.

Previously best known for playing the magnificent Hank "Hey Now" Kingsley in The Larry Sanders Show, George Bluth Arrested Development and himself in Entourage, Jeffrey Tabor is a brave choice to take on the lead of Maura (formerly Mort).

He's as far away from the androgynous Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl as it is possible to imagine. But that's the point. By being such an unconvincing woman, Tabor is almost more convincing in the role. He's the poster person for the transgender community that Caitlyn Jenner never was. An inspiration for the everyday folk of a similar generation who also happen to want to change their sex.

When it originally launched, the programme was perhaps (wrongly) seen as jumping on a bandwagon. Two years on and that's not the case. The transgender movement has moved on. It's now increasingly part and parcel of modern popular culture, as well as modern popular society, readily and frequently discussed without recourse to snigger, stare or sneer.

As opposed to the first openly gay or lesbian MPs, one senses we won't have to wait nearly as long for the first openly transgender back or frontbencher.

If Transparent was chiefly about Maura in the beginning, and to a certain extent still is, the other characters have rapidly started to catch up in the amount of screen time devoted to them and their respective storylines.

However, if there's one thing they all have in common, it's that they're so unlikable, which only serves to make them compulsive to watch. Insufferable, self-centred, hopelessly neurotic and very rarely happy, they're your typical wealthy dysfunctional Californians.

Among the regular cast, Gaby Hoffmann is younger daughter Ali, who doesn't quite fit in. Amy Landecker is older sister Sarah, who doesn't quite fit in. Then there's Jay Duplass as their brother, Joshua, who doesn't quite fit in and Judith Light (a prominent LGBT activist in her own right) as their mother, Shelly, who, you guessed it, doesn't quite fit in either.

Yes, if there's a theme running throughout Transparent, it's that as humans - young or old, male or female - we're constantly trying to fit in and mostly we never quite manage to do so, which I guess is a truism the world over, no matter who you are; even an aspiring Prime Minister.

As you watch it though, you just can't escape the feeling that Maura will completely transition into a woman way before Labour transitions into an electable political force.