The opening scene of “Transparent” season two shows exactly why critics have loved the series — and why it was just nominated for best comedy series at the Golden Globes.
The scene features the Pfefferman family, their extended family, and friends who are considered family taking a photo ahead of Sarah Pfefferman (Amy Landecker) and fiancee Tammy’s (Melora Hardin) wedding.
The elements that went into making the wedding photo scene great — good writing, a talented cast, a smart director and crew, and a little serendipity — are also what make the show generally excel.
It was all done in one take
“One of my favourite stories of season two, and I think what will be talked about a lot, is that that first five-minute shot is one take,” actress Amy Landecker recently told Business Insider.
During the scene, the family’s eccentricities and awkward interactions take the scene to the brink of discomfort for viewers. That was by design, courtesy of the show’s creator, writer, and director Jill Soloway.
“When a take is going, a take is going, and Jill will not yell cut,” Landecker explained. “She’ll just keep it going if she feels that there is any possibility, and [cinematographer] Jim Frohna will keep moving that camera. Jill always says she’s much more interested in the honesty of the moment than the words on the page, and those can change.”
The scene finally comes to an end when the photographer refers to Jeffrey Tambor’s Maura Pfefferman character as “sir.” The first season of “Transparent” followed the family patriarch’s transition to living as a woman.
Jeffrey Tambor doesn’t break character
“A lot of it is scripted dialogue, but one of the most pivotal moments in that first take is not scripted, which is when the actor playing the wedding photographer misgenders Maura,” Landecker said. “Jeffrey Tambor in his genius as an actor doesn’t even for a minute feel like Jeffrey in that moment. Jeffrey is Maura, and without missing a beat was offended and walks away like, ‘I’m not doing this anymore.'”
Tambor’s unplanned reaction to being called “sir” then instantly played out with the rest of the cast who know to stay in character until Soloway yells cut.
“Everyone had to regroup, and that was just an improvised moment of fate, a happy accident in the storytelling of what happens to transgender people all the time,” the actress said. “What’s so amazing about ‘Transparent’ and the way that everybody works is even the kids don’t miss a beat or break character.”
The second season of “Transparent” will be available on Friday, December 11, on Amazon.
Watch the wedding photo scene below:
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.
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