'Transparent': Amazon's dramedy is a 'five-hour movie' made for bingeing
"I kind of think of it like a five-hour movie, more than 10 episodes," Soloway ("Six Feet Under," "Afternoon Delight") said Saturday (July 12) at the TV critics' summer press tour. "From the beginning, we've seen it as five hours. We presented the whole season to [Amazon] with an act break around episode 2 or 3, a climax around 7 or 8."
Joe Lewis, head of comedy at Amazon Studios, says thinking of the show that way made the all-at-once release the natural choice.
"We're trying to figure out what that new form of storytelling is. That new form is novelistic, it's not episodic," Lewis says. "... I think the most exciting part for everyone at Amazon Studios and the audience is we're actually getting to make up this new form of storytelling as we do it. I don't think of it as bingeing, I just think of it as a five-hour story. We just have to figure out a word for it."
"Transparent" is the story of an L.A. family whose patriarch (Jeffrey Tambor) is transitioning to becoming a woman and the way his three adult kids (Amy Landecker, Gaby Hoffman and Jay Duplass) handle the news, while also following their own fractured lives. It's one of four new shows (along with "Bosch," "The After" and "Mozart in the Jungle") Amazon is rolling out in the coming months.
Soloway says she wrote the pilot script and sent it out to "all the usual suspects," but Amazon and Lewis provided the clearest path to getting "Transparent" in front of an audience.
"Joe was able to say, we will know whether or not we're going to make this in a month or two, and once we make it, we're going to know whether we'll order it to series a couple months after that," she says. "Everywhere else had the sort of response most people get, which was, 'Yeah, we like it. We want to change some things, we'd like to develop the script for the next year, and after that, we may or may not make it, and by the way, if we don't make it you'll never see it again.'
"That was the kind of dead end I'd been getting into as a writer for almost a decade. ... The feeling that people were going to see it whether or not they picked it up, that it was actually going to be seen by the public instead of a focus group or a board of directors ... was incredibly exciting."
"Transparent" is set to premiere on Amazon Prime in late September.