Two years after the last season of Transparent aired, the series that broke ground by putting transgender issues front and center (and made Amazon an original-programming streaming contender in the process), will bow out on September 27 with a 100-minute musical movie that deals with the death of Maura Pfefferman. You can watch the trailer for the finale above.
Maura’s death is the direct result of the firing of lead actor Jeffrey Tambor in early 2018, on allegations that he sexually harassed transgender actresses Van Barnes and Trace Lysette. At a panel during the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday, creator and showrunner Jill Soloway spoke about why the producers decided to end the Pfefferman story with a musical that explores the family’s grief and healing in the aftermath of Maura’s death. Tambor’s name never came up during the session.
“We could have just said goodbye, backed away, and waved and been grateful for the love and transformation around trans liberation,” Soloway said. “But, as storytellers and artists, this was actually not just the finale, but it was our chance to heal together. We were just trying to find our way back to that holy belief that what we were doing mattered and it was important. I think making it into a musical in some ways just rescued it from being overly serious. We didn’t want to tell the story of Maura’s death that was a complete mourning, that was a sad farewell. We had to find our way back to joy and the musical was a way to do that.”
Faith Soloway, a writer on the series (and Jill’s sister) who has been working on a Transparent musical for Broadway for some time, wrote all of the music and lyrics for Transparent: Musicale Finale. “I’ve been writing songs about our family and my gender expression, and about sexuality and gender, and Jewishness and about family all my life,” Faith Soloway said.
After the cast agreed during a workshop session in New York in June 2018 to sing in the movie, rehearsals began last November and production began in January. Shakina Nayfack, founder of Musical Theater Factory, who plays a version of Maura in the movie, called working on the movie “a sacred time.” “The grief in the ensemble and in the community was palpable,” Nayfack said. “This show has literally changed and saved lives. If we were to let it go down because of an unfortunate event, we’d be taking that away from everybody, especially the trans folks who need this representation, who need these jobs.”