“And I asked for this specifically,” Billings says, talking with The Daily Beast alongside Lysette ahead of the show’s fourth season premiere. “It was Alexandra’s idea,” Transparent creator Jill Soloway corroborates. “She was like, ‘I’m ready to show my body.’”
That she does. In the second episode of the season, “Groin Anomaly,” Davina is lying naked, face-down on her bed, getting massaged by her boyfriend. When he tweaks her back, she rolls over, exposing her breasts and, for the first time for a transgender actress on television, her penis.
“I don’t think it’s ever been done before, where you see someone who’s a trans body that was pre-op, especially of a certain age, who looks a certain way,” Billings says. “I wanted to show everything, but I said I don’t want to be objectified. I don’t want to be sexualized. And I don’t want to be fetishized. I thought Jill’s way of showing it was brilliant.”
For Soloway, the everyday breeziness of the scene was crucial: “It’s just life, living it, hanging out in your bed, getting a massage from your partner, turning over — just like life.”
Yeah, just like life, like that time you want to show your breasts and your penis to a television audience while not being fetishized or sexualized. That not-at-all-crazy life.
You know this is all going to come crashing down in a most horrible way, right?
UPDATE: Interesting comment from Molly:
I haven’t finished Season 4 yet.
Watching this show as a conservative Christian (a recent sudden political turn for me), I can’t help but notice that Soloway cannot win the argument(s)/theme(s) that she is trying to show, which I think are:
1) Allowing Trans people to live “openly” is okay, transition and hormones should be encouraged, and transexuality is not a mental illness.
2) Sexual Experience is encouraged and should be openly explored.
3) Relationships are fluid and have a natural end and beginning.
Her plotline shows that all of these arguments fail, and actually who is “winning” is the nuclear family that has a health spiritual life.
Mort Heffernan’s (the main trans character) transexualism wrecks the family first by causing a divorce, which wrecks the children. Mort and his wife ignore their growing adolescents for their own selfish personal problems, causing many problems for their kids, which are written about in the show. His son loses a father figure, and wrecks the lives of those he is in a relationship with.
2) Mort’s son (Josh) had an affair and son with his babysitter, which his parents gave tacit consent too because of their selfish lives. Josh’s son was adopted by an evangelical Christian family which appears on the show. Soloway writes them well, and they actually appear stable and loving and “not crazy,” that they are actually “winning” at life compared to the crazy family in LA.
3) Josh has relationship with a Rabbi, who realizes at the end of the relationship that she is wrong, and visits the “mikva”? for a bath, renewing her relationship with God.
4) The original nuclear family is ALWAYS together. This could also just be for plot, but they still seem like “family”, but still crazy.
Mort (now Maura), still does the Hebrew blessings as the head male, and sits at the head of the table, taking privilege as a head of the family, and selfishness to act any way he likes despite how his family is doing.
Anyway, religion, true religion (because their is some “off the wall” religion in the show, too) comes off as the “Winning” life in the show, as those selfishly living out their sexual fantasies flounder and their lives fall apart.
LOTS of shock value scenes, but it is interesting to see if Soloway can make any of her original themes work, and she can’t and won’t be able to, because they are untenable.