It doesn’t matter how many new fandoms I get into, my ultimate fictional crush will always, always be Joshua Lyman. I can’t get over him even after five years from the first time that I watched The West Wing.
just look at him
with the dimples
the undone suit
how sweet he is
his blunt, sarcastic nature
and how cute Bradley/Josh is with Janel/Donna
I JUST REALLY LOVE JOSH LYMAN AND BRADLEY WHITFORD
I’m done now
Two things happened to Maura during these three episodes that I’d like to talk about.
So, uh, I gotta go…
If I recall correctly, the show tackles the bathroom issue in episode four, when Maura, Sarah, and Ali go to the mall.
Things get very bad very quickly. Two teenage girls notice Maura and are quick to point her out to their mom, asking questions like, “Is that a man?” The mom is a huuuuuge asshole about everything, calling Maura a man and saying that she’s harming her children (two accounts of bullshit right there) by being there.
As I said in my previous post about the show, I pass 100% of the time, but that wasn’t always the case. Early on, when I first went full time, people often misgendered me (it was probably 60/40 female), so, naturally, I was terrified of public restrooms.
I avoid them whenever possible, but the only consistent time when I had to use them was while I was on campus working, where shifts could be as long as eight hours. In which case, I just went for it. Thankfully nobody ever said anything, so I don’t have any horror stories. If someone did ever say anything I was prepared to fight for my right to use the restroom with the gender I identify as.
Nowadays, even though I know I pass 100% of the time, somewhere inside me there’s that echo of a doubt. That some day, in some situation where I have to use the women’s restroom, some woman will say something, and all of a sudden I’ll find myself on an isolated island in a public space.
Midway through the season, Maura takes her first estrogen pill.
Now, if there’s any argument to be made about true, inherit differences between in men in women, it’s probably in their hormonal makeup. Hormones, in a sense, shape everything, from within the womb to puberty and beyond. Men have way more testosterone than women, and women have far more estrogen than men.
It’s absolutely fascinating being on one versus the other, and impossible to describe the experience accurately unless you’ve been through it yourself.
As close as I can put it, estrogen is more of a partner while testosterone is more…pushy. Being on testosterone has what I would call a ‘droning’ sensation that goes on inside your head. Estrogen is more laid back.
I remember, back before I transitioned, I would get this…horrible sensation that washed over my body like a wave. I don’t have a way to describe it other than an intrenched sense of absolute wrongness that would sweep from head to toe.
I don’t get that anymore.
Maura coming out to her daughter.
So. Yeah. I’m transgender. Since hearing about this show I’ve been wonderfully excited for it. Finally, a quality television series about people like me.
Transparent explores the predicament of a transgender mom as she comes out to her kids, and as she – and the kids – gradually transitions into her new life. You can watch the show on Amazon (and view the pilot for free) by buying Amazon Prime.
I’m not going to be reviewing the show – a lot of people are doing that, and I don’t think I could add much.
Instead, I’m going to be commenting on the show, but not on its quality. I’m going to see if I can expand on the obstacles the show tackles during Maura’s transition, and say whether or not the show is handling this correctly. Maybe I can add some perspective, and for the few that read this blog, maybe some of you can gain a greater insight on what it feels like to be born in the wrong body.
Two years to the month I began to figure things out, I now pass 100% of the time. If you’re wondering about the face I’m making, I have a sour gummy worm in my mouth.
Probably the biggest obstacle Maura faces in the first three episodes is coming out to her family.
Coming out is hard. I used to do transgender Q&As for classes when I was at my university. I got a question once from a woman who asked, “What’s been the hardest part of transitioning?” At first I stumbled my way through the answer as my mind raced through everything I’ve been through. Coming out, waiting for hormones to take affect, going full-time for the first time, getting the necessary surgeries, worrying about affording the necessary surgeries, the waiting…the list was endless. Eventually, I finally settled on an answer: “There is no hardest part. It’s all hard.”
Maura tries to come out to all three of her kids at the same time in the pilot. When I saw it for the first time, I had to pause it at this moment. I’ve had to pause the show at many points because the show can trigger me into remembering my own experiences – this is a good thing! This means the show is doing things right.
Wanting to be female had been eating me up inside, but I first came out to a female friend of mine without having any desire to transition. I didn’t want to have to deal with all of that. Later I had a falling out with this friend because I had been becoming increasingly unstable and isolated a lot of people; but the collapse of this friendship is what forced me to seek a therapist, and started me on the road to where I am now.
I hope to reconnect with that friend some day. (And if you ever read this, and you know who you are, I’m so sorry).
It’s been two years now since I started to realize what was truly wrong with me, and I would say I’m still not fully recovered.
Coming out is a slow process. I came out to my mom over the phone in December 2012. By this point I couldn’t take it anymore and I knew I wanted to transition. I blurted it out to her. What made it easier was that I knew she’d be okay with it.
It’s important to note that Maura’s friend – who works at the LGBT center – in the show says you’ll lose all your family members, but that’s not always the case. I’m not gonna lose my mom.
Until I graduated I worked for my university, and around the same time I came out to my mom, I recently got a new boss. He had been on the job less than two weeks when I dropped a proverbial bomb on him and told him I was going to transition. Welcome to the job, Chris!
That was hard.
I told my best friends in September 2012 and November 2012. I shook a lot, I cried. They were accepting. That’s good.
The largest group of people I came out to was my immediate coworkers when we all met up for our weekly shift meeting. I came out at the end of it. I was incredibly anxious, felt safe in doing so, couldn’t back out because they would find out eventually…I talked slowly…. It’s hard to even think about this memory because it was so difficult.
To my honest surprise, I don’t remember who started it, but somebody started clapping and then the rest of the group clapped. That’s good too.
Teachers, other co-workers, acquaintances, supervisors…everybody would know so everybody has to know.
Transparent demonstrates how hard it is. Maura tries to come out to her son but is unable. Why didn’t she come out? Doubt, worry, nervousness, she’s frightened – it could be any one or all of those things. Josh will eventually find out, though. It’s only a matter of time.
The driver’s license
During the pilot, Maura, in her support group, talks about the potentially awful experience of showing your drivers’ license even though she was presenting as female. Luckily for her, nothing happened, and she was able to buy her alcohol and leave the store.
When I got my name updated I got a new driver’s license. At the time, though, I couldn’t get the gender changed from male. Every time I was asked to show photo ID – whether buying a game or what have you – I’m always internally terrified that someone will notice the “M” next to the gender on my driver’s license and say something.
I had to pause the pilot at the point to because I was feeling too anxious.
So far, Maura’s having a pretty smooth transition, though I wonder how difficult the writers will make things for her. Will she encounter some bigoted people later on in the season? Is the show going to explore her going out for the first time as a girl (because obviously she’s been doing that for a while now)?
I really admire older people who transition. I could stand barely twenty years in the wrong body; they somehow managed 50+.
I can confidently say that had I been born earlier like they were, I probably wouldn’t have made it.
Looking forward to more episodes.
I remember clearly the conversation I had with my eldest son, now 28, when he moved into his first apartment several years ago. I wanted to know when I should arrange for the cable company to come and do an installation.
“Oh, I’m not getting a cable subscription,” he said.
“You’re getting a satellite dish?” I replied.
“No, neither. I download everything I want to watch.”
And so it was that I discovered how the younger generation watched television—it didn’t. It was downloading; it was streaming; in many instances, it wasn’t paying for the privilege. And the one thing it no longer had any use for? An actual TV set.
This fall saw the addition of another layer of pending obsolescence to the television equation when the consensus critics’ choice for best new series of the season wasn’t on network TV, basic cable, or even premium cable. It’s streaming on Amazon Studios (free with an Amazon Prime subscription).
In case you haven’t heard, the show is called Transparent, a dramedy starring Jeffrey Tambor as the aging patriarch of a dysfunctional Los Angeles family who adopts a transgender identity. From Six Feet Under producer Jill Soloway it’s a bracing, innovative piece of programming. Like its lead character, it cannot be easily identified or categorized. It has comedy. It has drama. It has heart. It has pathos.
It also has no conventional network to call its own while streaming across our computer monitors, tablets, and smart phones. Instead, in the latest gambit changing up the content/viewing game, Transparent is made available not a single episode at a time but all at once, the 10 episodes from season one there for the binging since last week.
This is the same arrangement Netflix pioneered with its original series, which include House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Derek, Hemlock Grove, Lilyhammer, and the animated BoJack Horseman. Besides its breakthrough Transparent, Amazon has the second season of its political satire Alpha House coming out on October 24—again, all 10 episodes at once.
If you think ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, the CW, HBO, and Showtime aren’t hearing footsteps, you’d be wrong. It’s not for nothing that HBO and Showtime are pouring so much money into making on-demand services like HBO Go and Showtime Anytime players in their own right. Having entities that are available anywhere, anytime isn’t just about convenience, but survival. The day isn’t far off when the on-the-go iteration of a network will be more popular than the television version that spawned it.
“This isn’t just a case of a bold new competitor emerging on the content landscape,” said one industry analyst. “It’s a genuine game-changer in the way it challenges the status quo. Because now that streaming services are starting to reach quality parity with the best programmers, it’s literally altering audience viewing habits in a real way. It gets people out of the habit of automatically reaching for the remote. And that’s huge.”
As with premium cable outlets, Netflix and Amazon have several significant and obvious advantages over their broadcast rivals when distributing original content. They don’t need to sell concepts for approval by affiliated stations; they need not worry about scrutiny from advertisers, since there aren’t any. They’re given even greater flexibility by their ability to distribute content worldwide on a single stream; their delivery system is limited only by the reach of the Internet.
But there’s another, more vexing way in which streamers are shaking up the original content equation. Neither subscribe to a conventional ratings measurement service like Nielsen, and neither has released whatever internal ratings info they may have. Netflix boss Ted Sarandos has referred to television ratings as an “irrelevant benchmark.” If that’s true, it still remains the sole criterion for the way tens of billions in ad revenue gets split up. Of course, critics and competitors in the television landscape charge that if Netflix and Amazon’s internal viewer numbers weren’t miniscule, they would scream about it from the highest mountain. But any guesswork about actual numbers is precisely that: a guess.
Certainly, the hefty investment in original series programming is catching everyone’s eye. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu have combined spent more than $1 billion this year as they ramp up that area of their content. Word came down this week that Adam Sandler will be developing four new movies exclusively for Netflix, which may or may not be seen as a good thing, depending on one’s view of Adam Sandler. It’s all part of a Netflix commitment of more than $6 billion to film and TV content over the next three years. A major European expansion also is in the works.
The bottom line is that Netflix and Amazon both have deep pockets and aren’t afraid to reach into them as the return on investment begins to materialize via increased buzz, cache, and subscribers—if not yet revenue.And it tells us that the role of the television screen in our future is growing increasingly murky, if not altogether obsolete.
Of course, any 20-year-old could have told us that.
Original article by Ray Richmond