Tuesday, June 23, 2015
TRANSPARENT is a wonderful show. It is filled with rich characters, novel situations, tremendous heart, superb performances, inspired writing, and it courageously tackles a delicate subject with compassion and conviction. It’s far and away the best new show of the current season.
But I’m not voting for it.
Because it was submitted as a “Best Comedy” candidate.
I’m sorry, but TRANSPARENT is not a comedy. There are humorous touches, but it is a deeply affecting drama. It’s like a rightfielder winning the Cy Young Award for Best Pitcher because he’s got a good arm and throws accurately from rightfield. He’s not PITCHING. Or a girl from Italy comes to the U.S. on a work visa and wins Miss America.
If TRANSPARENT was vying for “Best Drama” I would vote for it in a second. I would cheerfully vote for it over MAD MEN. And sorry Jon Hamm, but I would vote for Jeffrey Tambor. I’d also vote for Amy Landecker, but not if I have to judge on the basis of comic chops.
Just because TRANSPARENT is a half-hour doesn’t make it a comedy.
The objective of a comedy should be to make people LAUGH. And yet, that goal is viewed as being almost unimportant. Comedy again gets no respect. It’s lightweight, frivolous. Anybody can do comedy. So to gain respect, comedies must now be dramas disguised as comedies.
Here’s the dirty little secret: Anybody CAN’T do comedy. Writing comedy is HARD. Getting genuine laughs is HARD. Filling a half hour with them, telling a compelling story with them, conveying truths with them, reflecting society with them – that’s FUCKING HARD. And those few who can do it really well deserve an Emmy category to honor them. There used to be one. It was called “Best COMEDY.”
TRANSPARENT won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy, but that’s the stupid Golden Globes. They mean nothing. I hope TRANSPARENT wins every Pulitzer, Peabody, GLAAD, you name a prestigious prize. It’s a revelation. But it’s not a comedy in the strict sense. Maybe I’m in the minority but I’m going to vote for comedies the fit the definition of the word.
UPDATE: The Academy designates comedies and dramas by whether they're half hours or hours. So TRANSPARENT would essentially be trapped in the Comedy category although it really isn't a comedy. But reader RockGolf provided a link that shows the Academy will make exceptions. Here's the link. TRANSPARENT could have been submitted as a Drama if they had applied for a waiver.
And that brings up another question. Since they did have a choice, did they submit as a Comedy because they strategically felt they had a better chance of winning? Something to think about.
By Ken Levine at 6:00 AM