Amazon's Transparent Is High-Minded Jewishness at its Best

By Roy Kaufmann | Jan 16, 2016

Jill Soloway’s brilliantly written, beautifully shot, honestly acted Amazon original series, Transparent, has gotten a ton of attention.

It’s been called the most important show for its namesake issue, transgender rights. It’s been called the Jewiest show on television by the very charming gals, Katie Halper and Heather Gold, over at Morning Jew. It won some key awards at the Golden Globes.  And as you can tell, we think it is deserved.

As a matter of fact, we want to pile on one more accolade: the most important drug-policy show around.

Landmark series like The Wire, Weeds and Breaking Bad introduced much of America to the depth and breadth of the Drug War and the counterproductive lunacy of prohibition. They are each important as much as they are entertaining. But Soloway’s contribution to the conversation is very different.

First, In Transparent, drugs aren’t center-stage; they’re in the wings, they’re the Greek Chorus. It is Ali’s MDMA trip, for example, that fuels a profound connection with her father and his journey (after a comically failed threesome). It is medical marijuana that brings together the Pfefferman kids, fueling some pretty honest introspection. Drugs on the show, as in real life, are ultimately just tools for moving our stories forward.

Second, in Transparent, we’re not judging any of these adult characters for choosing to smoke pot, or use psychedelics, any more than we would judge a character on network television for grabbin’ a cold one from the fridge as he talks to his kids about dinner.

Like Jenji Kohan -- whose Weeds presaged the current marijuana legalization tidal wave and whose Orange Is the New Black made prison reform a lot more visible to a lot more people -- Soloway’s show presents another vision, one where we give Americans the freedom to choose what they put into their own bodies.