9.5

Transparent Review: “Cherry Blossom”/“Mee-Maw”

(Episode 2.04 and 2.05)

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<i>Transparent</i> Review: &#8220;Cherry Blossom&#8221;/&#8220;Mee-Maw&#8221;

When Sarah Pfefferman starts in on one of the moms at school, it’s impossible not to feel for her. “Regarding Wacky Hair Day…” is the beginning of every sentence wherein a mother is about to have a public meltdown. This is because, when you’re already feeling like your life is a hot mess, one more school function will completely throw you over the edge. And, once again, Amy Landecker proves that she is a force to be reckoned with.

Of course, this meltdown she has at the beginning of “Cherry Blossom” is nothing compared to what happens at the end of the episode. The entire gala extravaganza was hilarious, from the eye shadow palette confrontation with Lem and his new boo, to the horrible classroom semi-make-out session with Tammy (who’s neck tattoo reads “Becoming,” obviously), to the big win at the end. Nothing says, “I’m fine and I don’t need a life coach,” like a grown woman cussing out a room full of people trying to give her the free life coach session she just won from the raffle tickets she was forced to by. Y’all. We need to #PrayForSarah.

But, this is Transparent, which means we need to #PrayForEveryone. “Cherry Blossom” also highlights the new struggles Raquel is experiencing. For one, Joshie just does not get her. When he gets all giggly about Colton praying, it’s a funny but somewhat terrifying moment. He doesn’t understand that Raquel also prays—not just because she’s a rabbi and she’s supposed to—but because she believes in cultivating a personal relationship with her God. Colton does too, and as much Raquel wants to believe that Josh is a spiritual person who “just doesn’t have a practice,” she’s not quite right about that. His relationship with Colton also continues to be strained and strange, as they both decide to invite Rita over for dinner. I don’t know when we’re all going to talk about the fact that Rita is a child molester, but—no? Not today, over pizza and dessert? Okay, cool. Poor Raquel has to sit there as Rita tries to use black mold as an excuse to get Josh over to her house. Raquel’s response, “That sounds like a professional’s job,” was the equivalent of a firm, “Hellll nawl.”

This episode also worked to link those Berlin scenes to the present, with Ali in the library researching her family so he can “knock the boxers off Leslie.” She’s interested in this notion of inherited trauma, and it’s going to be interesting to see how this concept informs the rest of the season. It’s also important to note the intimacy in the scene, between Ali and Syd. Even before they start joking about the sexiness of the term “epigenetics,” the very idea of a new lover accompanying you as you research your family is just beautiful. I’d liken it to the spa scenes that open “Mee-Maw,” with Ali, Sarah and all of the nameless women bare-breasted and so seemingly self-assured alongside them. It’s another move from Jill Soloway, in her various attempts to topple our understanding or expectations of what makes for sexy and sensual on TV. An all-nude, all-female shot that is disinterested in a male gaze? Yes, I am here for that.

But, of course, the heaviest part of “Mee-Maw” is Colton’s family narrative. We know, we just know this is going to go badly, but nothing could have prepared us for that final shot of Colton asking his father, Josh, if he wants him to stay. We want Josh to say yes, but we know too much has happened. Josh has just found out that his parents knew all along about Colton—and even donated lots of money to the adoptive family’s church. Raquel is pregnant, upset and just done with the whole mess. It makes sense that Colton go back to his stable home, but damn. It hurts.

Similarly, we had every reason to anticipate Maura leaving Shelly, again. She’s been spending more time with Davina and Shea. She’s ready to move on, and is even looking into surgery. But we still feel for Shelly, who’s basically getting dumped all over again.

Other people who might be getting dumped too? Our beautiful and lovely and amazing Syd, who accompanies Ali to the New Moon fest. It is so clear that Ali is just taken with Leslie—“the big bad dyke.” Things can only go down (then up, then sideways and crossways, because it’s Transparent), from here.

Stray Observations:

“Spirit Week is a wonderful but intense time for all of us.”

“I got a Rita in my life.” Raquel opening up to Sarah was a sweet scene. I’d love to see these two become actual friends.

Rita singing Sly and the Family Stone at the dinner table? #PrayForRaquel

Colton’s Dad on The Jewish People: “We love the Jewish people. Have the upmost respect for them. You know, Jesus was a Jew.”

Baby Davina (from the photo album) was adorable.

Again, the Colton scene. I’d like to know who made it through that (and his foster siblings singing that haunting “Humbly thyself in the sight of the Lord” song) without crying.

Best Quote of the Episode:
“I can’t have real emotional intimacy with someone who hasn’t suffered under the patriarchy.”
“You’re a lesbian. ‘Cause I don’t give two fucks about the patriarchy.”

Shannon M. Houston is Assistant TV Editor & a film critic at Paste, and a writer for Salon and Heart&Soul. This New York-based freelancer probably has more babies than you, but that’s okay; you can still be friends. She welcomes almost all follows on Twitter.

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