ET: Each season of “Transparent” has a different theme, and this one seems to be how everyone is interconnected in their sadness, thanks to whatever personal demon they’re fighting.
Jill Soloway: Gosh, I felt like things were getting a little less sad this season.
Alexandra Billings: I did, too.
Soloway: Things are getting funnier and sillier; they’re all on a trip together, there are hijinks.
But there’s a dead person, Rita, following Josh around the whole time.
Soloway: You’re right, there is a dead person. It’ll be less sad in season five. We think of it like a melancholy and uncomfortable pleasure you get from the pain in Transparent.
Because people are growing and moving through it, like when Maura and Ali are traveling to Israel for what they think is just a conference but the trip becomes so much more.
Soloway: Yeah, it’s real, hard and uncomfortable, but then it gives birth to good stuff. A lot of other shows are just all pain or all pleasure -- I’ve been trying to do the roller coaster thing.
Billings: There’s a great moment that Maura has when she’s in the airport, and she puts her hands up and says, “If you need me to be a fucking chicken, I’ll be a fucking chicken!” There’s this horrible thing she’s going through, which as a trans person, you just go, “This is the most awful thing,” and Tambor pulls this gift out of the center of his heart space.
Soloway: The airport scene is a pretty common thing, people want to “out” you. A lot of trans people have been through something just like that.
Billings: Especially if you’re a trans person of color. Every time I travel with my wife, Chrisanne, who’s as white as white can be, security loves to touch my hair -- which I’m like, don’t touch the motherfucking hair -- I am searched and she is not. I’m flying first class now, and I or my suitcase am always stopped.
You’d think going through the airport would be simple, but really…
Billings: I was talking to some girlfriends of mine about the great juxtaposition in this show between about trans people who are passable and those who are not. Maura falls into the container of not passable. Shea, played by Trace Lysette, falls into the passable, and both have their sets of problems because when you look like Shea, you have to explain. Can you imagine going with someone who looks like that but her transness is completely invisible? However, Maura’s is very, very visible. Then you look at Davina -- and this has been true of my life -- and I’m on a spectrum. It really depends on where I am, if I’m passable or not. I’m very out with transness, but not everybody knows at first sight, and that’s troublesome to me.