As “Transparent” fans learned last fall, the Amazon Prime Video series will end its upcoming fifth and final season not with a bang, but with a musical. On Wednesday, creator Jill Soloway — who prefers to be referenced with gender-neutral pronouns — broke down their decision to wrap the comedy on a high (and probably some low) notes.
When asked by a reporter during the Television Critics Association press tour why the creative team ultimately chose to end “Transparent” with a musical and how it will address the exit of former series regular Jeffrey Tambor (who played Maura), Soloway said it’s “all one big answer.”
“Which is, you know, right as my parent came out, the very first instinct I had before I wrote ‘Transparent’ was that my sister Faith and I were going to make a documentary musical,” Soloway said, before turning to Amazon Studios Head, Jen Salke — who was leading the panel — to add, “I never told you that.”
“My sister Faith is an amazing musician and has been writing musicals for years, and as a family we were always doing musicals,” Soloway continued. “So that was kind of the first impulse was to use song. And then ‘Transparent’ came about and it was such a beautiful experience and in many ways, some people have said that ‘Transparent’ has always been a show that wanted to be a musical ’cause there’s these musical numbers and always these scenes about Maura, who wanted the kids to come see her sing, and Shelly singing on a boat.”
“And when everything went down last year and we lost Jeffrey Tambor, and we went through so much as a family, that felt like this very emotional — there are no words, there is no way to really kind of just go back to a plain old Season 5 and try to just repair by coming back,” they added.
The upcoming fifth season, which has no premiere date yet but is expected this fall, will be the first since Tambor was fired by the studio last February.
In November 2017, Tambor was accused of harassing two trans women on the “Transparent” set, including co-star Trace Lysette and the actor’s personal assistant Van Jones. A third woman unrelated to the production, makeup artist Tamara Delbridge, later came forward with her own accusation.
As TheWrap previously reported, Soloway had considered using Tambor in the season in a flashback-only role as his pre-transition character Mort Pfefferman, but that idea was nixed.
Soloway says that Salke’s hire as the new head of the studios last year helped to make the musical a reality.
“Getting to know Jen and Jen saying, ‘What would be your dream?’ She said, ‘I wanted something big.’ And I said, ‘What do you think about a musical movie?’ And she was like, ‘Great!’” Soloway said. “And we kind of dared ourselves to follow through and come through and take all of Faith’s songs that she had been writing. Faith was already starting to put songs together for a possible ‘Transparent’ musical five years down the road on Broadway. So we took the songs, we took the storyline and just finished shooting on Friday.”
Soloway added: “And I’m in such a good mood because we were able to do something I feel like is going to astonish and reward fans, and was a way to take music and transform the family to be able to come together and have that kind of like feeling of, in some ways, transition. That the show isn’t necessarily ending, it’s transitioning into a musical.”