Transparent is the best Jewish show on television. The premise and goal of the show is not about Judaism at all. Most obviously, it is about Maura, a recently out trans woman and the ramifications of her revelations to her three children. It is also about the three sexually diverse adult children who are extraordinarily selfish (actually all the main characters are pretty self-absorbed) and each engages in different sexual explorations as adults (and also in flashback as teenagers). Brutal, honest, complicated, awkward, and real.
However, the family is also Jewish. And they are real Jews.
They deal with issues rarely seen on television or in movies. One mom tries out Shabbat dinner with her children including no cell phone time. Another dates a Reform rabbi who is dealing with the struggle of being married to her profession. (Including the never before said on television, “You’re fucking the rabbi?”) The third cancels her bat mitzvah because she doesn’t feel she can memorize the portion – even though she knew it already.
Created by Jill Soloway, herself Jewish, it is remarkable and refreshing to see Judaism impact people’s lives as more than just the obligatory plot driven life cycle event (see The Simpsons premiere). Shabbat services are briefly shown and they look like many synagogues – lightly attended with a rabbi doing her best. The funeral and shiva are more accurate than usual and highlight the importance of mustard. The rabbi is sensitive and charming. Judaism is neither fanatical or the enemy, but a potential partner, working for some people and lost on others.
This is real sexual life and real religious life because the show deals with real people – selfish, silly, impulsive, uncomfortable, fun, trying, convoluted, but most of all real.
A great ten episode watch.