Jill Soloway’s acclaimed Emmy-nominated series “Transparent” has returned for its fourth season, which follows the Pfeffermans as they travel to Israel, and embark on journeys of self discovery.
The first episode of the season opens in the midst of a love and sex addicts meeting, with Lila (Alia Shawkat) discussing how lonely it can be trying to find her “person.” She continues to say that when you meet someone everything feels a little “clearer,” and you feel like you’re “on the inside of the world again.”
The touching speech really sets the tone for the season, and reflects each character’s search for something, or someone, to make things clearer for them.
Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) travels to Israel for a seminar, but as a result of unexpectedly meeting a (thought to be) lost relative, she ends up inviting the rest of the Pfefferman clan to join her in the Holy Land. Once the Pfeffermans find themselves away from home they begin to explore themselves.
Ali (Gabby Hoffman) searches for herself, and for a connection to her body — questioning why it is that she feels her body is “screaming” at her. Sarah (Amy Landecker) tests the boundaries of her relationship with her milquetoast ex-husband Len (Rob Huebel), and wonders what kind of relationship she can hope to have with him. Josh (Jay Duplass) continues to wrestle with his past relationship with Rita — confronting the lasting traumas of the relationship. And Maura tries to find some meaning in her relationship with her newly discovered relative.
In true Pfefferman fashion, looking inward doesn’t always provide insights into one’s self. The characters, for the most part, remain exactly how they were before they arrived in Israel. Their efforts to understand themselves start to feel more like narcissism than self-discovery as the season progresses — and it’s a bit tiring.
The most compelling journey this season doesn’t belong to the Pfeffermans at all, but to Maura’s friend Davina (Alexandra Billings). We get to see what Davina’s life was like prior to her transition in the episode “Born Again.” Davina’s story is one of survival and perseverance, and it offers a new and compelling look at transitioning that is markedly different from Maura’s.
Anyone who has enjoyed the Pfeffermans’ exploits in the past will enjoy seeing what the family is like in a new environment. But you may find yourself somewhat bored by the Pfeffermans’ inability to change.
All ten episodes of “Transparent’s” fourth season are now available to stream on Amazon Prime.
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