Remember the Golden Globes? Sure you do. No, not the red carpet of frocks and jewels, but the actual awards.
In the TV categories there were two shocks. Transparent took home the prize for best TV series, musical or comedy, and Jeffrey Tambor won the Golden Globe for best actor in a comedy series for his role as Maura Pfefferman, a transgender woman in the series.
Many will recall Tambor's gracious acceptance speech: "If I may, I would like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your courage, for your inspiration, thank you for your patience, and thank you for letting us be part of the change."
Transparent was made by Amazon and until very recently was unavailable in Canada. The Golden Globe wins made it all the more tantalizing. Now it's here and you can watch all 10 episodes on the streaming service shomi.
The awards were deserved. Transparent is magnificent. Daring, quietly searing, funny and profoundly poignant, it is social-observation storytelling at its most incandescent.
We are thrown into the narcissistic, casually lavish lives of the Pfeffermans, a secular Jewish family in Los Angeles. Tambor plays Mort, the father, a divorced former professor. In retirement and with great dignity, he has begun the transition from male to female. From Mort to Maura.
The opening episode pivots on Maura's revelation of her new status to her family. What a crew. There is Sarah (Amy Landecker), who seems the most stable and grounded, being a well-off, stay-at-home mom, and then there are her two younger siblings: Ali (Gaby Hoffmann), who drifts from one faddish interest to another while relying on dad for money, and Josh (Jay Duplass), a music-biz honcho who lives with two young, beautiful women. He's sleeping with one of them and, it seems, waiting for the other to get to the age when he can legally have sex with her.
These are staggeringly appalling people. Maddening in their narcissism, but compelling. You watch in wide-eyed wonder at their trite bickering and the vastness of their self-absorption. And it's not that Maura doesn't know it. "They are so selfish," she says. "I don't know how it is I raised three people who cannot see beyond themselves."
But it is Tambor as Maura who anchors this exquisite dark comedy. Maura, the one character undergoing tremendous change and needing courage, is the calm one. There is such dignity and dry humour in Mort's revelations about his life, feelings and family, at the LGBT meetings he attends. There is such gossamer-like fragility to his new identity as Maura. It is to the great credit of creator Jill Soloway (she worked on Six Feet Under, and there are echoes of that great drama here) and of Tambor that there is nothing camp about Maura. She is this enormously lovable creation, a heroine you adore and fear for.
Tambor is very, very fine – a great actor who has now been associated with a trilogy of great TV series. He was the horrifically brown-nosing sidekick Hank Kingsley on The Larry Sanders Show, the perplexing George Bluth Sr. on Arrested Development and now the amazing trans-parent Mort/Maura on Transparent.
But it is not just a series about one character. In the Pfeffermans we are presented with an entire world. They are rich, dysfunctional, enraging. But typical, too. They live the sort of lives that others envy. And here they are, hopelessly secretive, almost hoggish in their greed for pleasure and satisfaction. And yet they aren't caricatures or burlesque figures. They represent a way of life like any other, just one that unfolds in comfort and wealth.
Transparent is a must-see. All the rave reviews preceding its arrival in Canada were correct. It is funny, wise and beautifully written and executed. It is a series that amounts to a progression of moral evasions and discoveries, a portrait of an age, a celebration of its central character and a wry, dry commentary on the brutal vacuity of those who surround her.
Don't neglect to keep watching The Americans (FX Canada, 10 p.m.), which is terrific in its third season. Spies, lies and deceit in 1980s Washington as two Soviet agents – our heroes! – try to undermine Ronald Reagan's America.
All times ET. Check local listings.