Friday, February 26, 2021

Believe Care Invest: Transparent

Maura Pfefferman has been living as male her whole life but has decided at age 69 to come out as transgender. Her three grown children, Ali, Sarah, and Josh, are all neurotic and selfish, and Maura loses her nerve about telling them.

Why Maura might be hard to identify with: We always have a hard time identifying with depressed characters.

  • She has a reputation: “Dad’s not getting engaged, he’s too much of a pussyhound.” Her ex-wife says of her: “I wouldn’t believe a word your father says, nothing, not a word, nada, ninca, nein, nicht.”
  • She has a big secret.
  • Her exasperations with her children feel universal. “They are so selfish. I do not know how it is I raised three people who cannot see beyond themselves.”
  • We see how terrible her kids are to her before we’ve met her. In a nice pun, her “deadname” was “Mort” and indeed they see her as walking death.
    • Ali: Have you talked to daddy?
    • Josh: Yes.
    • Ali: And?
    • Josh: You think he has cancer?
    • Ali: Kind of.
    • Josh: Well, if he’s really sick, he should start gifting us $12 thou a year now.
    • Ali: Why?
    • Josh: Tax purposes.
    • We haven’t met Maura yet but we already feel for her.
  • Feigning okay: “Is Marcy coming?” “Oh no, Marcy and I broke up. I’m fine! I’m better, actually.”
  • Of course, they’re all misgendering her, but it’s hard to blame them for that, because they don’t know.
  • When they’re with her, they constantly complain about her parenting and infantilize her:
    • Sarah (to Maura): You have sauce right here (touches her own chin)
    • Ali: Oh my god, leave him alone, he’s mid-meal. This is the golden rule, let him be as messy as he wants, we’ll hose him down at the end.
    • Sarah: No! You clean up as you go along!
    • Josh (to Maura): You guys never taught us how to eat. You realize that, right?
    • Maura: Because we come from shtetl people. Your grandma Rose actually ate lettuce with her bare hands.
    • Finally, Sarah leans over and wipes the sauce off Maura’s face: “Oh, that’s cold!” She says “I’m sorry,” but keeps wiping.
  • She’s terrified of telling them:
    • Maura: Listen, I have, I, I need to talk to you about something, there’s a big change going on, and (starts to cry) Oh God, I love you kids, I love you kids, I love you kids, I love you kids…”
    • Sarah: It IS cancer!
  • Treating her like she’s dead: “Dad, you don’t need all this food, right?”
  • She’s always been depressed.
  • She’s about to do something very brave. Speaking to an LGBT support group: “I went to Target, and I just, I ‘took her out’, you know what I mean, and I got into, y’know, the checkout line, and the girl at the cash register said, ‘I need to see some ID with that credit card of yours’, and um, you know what that’s like, right, and I just knew, ‘this is gonna not be good, this is gonna get ugly,’ and so she just kept looking at me …and then she said, ‘…oh’. Like that, y’know? And she rung up the um, batteries or something. That was… That was a big victory. And I was like ‘do not cry in front of this woman, do not cry in front of this woman.’”
Strength / Flaw: Brave / But not brave enough to come out to her kids yet


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen this series but "Brave / But not brave enough to come out to her kids yet" doesn't sound like a true strength/flaw pairing, in comparison to all your other identified pairings. Plus, doesn't she come out to a family member by the end of the episode? Not coming out is more like a reversable behavior indicative of something deeper within the character, I would say.

Matt Bird said...

She gets accidentally exposed at the end of the episode. Maybe sensitive / afraid?