Emmy episode analysis: Jeffrey Tambor (‘Transparent’) shines in ‘Man on the Land’

Is Best Comedy Actor nominee Jeffrey Tambor on track to win his second consecutive Emmy for “Transparent?” He stars in this Amazon series as Maura Pfefferman, a retired college professor learning how to live life anew as a transgender woman. This is his eighth career nomination, after four Comedy Supporting Actor bids for “The Larry Sanders Show” (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998) and two more for “Arrested Development” (2003, 2004). Tambor has submitted “Man on the Land,” the ninth episode of season two, for Emmy voters. Will he be the latest multiple-winner in this category?

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SYNOPSIS
Maura attends a feminist musical festival with her daughters Sarah (Amy Landecker) and Ali (Gaby Hoffmann). All is well and good until she meets Vicki (Anjelica Huston), who informs her that trans women aren’t allowed at the festival. Desperate to leave, Maura searches for her daughters, who have wandered off on their own. She finally finds Ali with her college professor, Leslie (Cherry Jones), sitting around a campfire with other women discussing feminist issues. Maura points out the absurdity of their transphobic policy, and they counter by pointing out that though she may have suffered in her previous life as Mort, she nevertheless benefitted from being a man. Maura storms off, and is picked up by Vicki on her way out.

Can Tambor win again with this episode? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons.

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PROS
This is an excellent selection for Tambor. Being confronted with transphobia in what is supposed to be a safe space makes for truly emotional material, and the actor subtly registers Maura’s pain and discomfort as she fields glances from festival attendees, finally exploding during the campfire conversation.

As we’ve said before countless times, the Emmys love repeat winners. Just ask four-time winner Jim Parsons (“The Big Bang Theory”). Tambor’s victory last year makes him the default front-runner this year.

Transgender rights remain in the headlines as a hotly debated issue, adding cultural relevance to the show.

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CONS
Generally speaking, voters take the “comedy” component of this category very seriously. Again, look at Parsons. Even its most ardent supporters concede that “Transparent” is more dramatic than funny. It didn’t hurt Tambor last year, but could it hurt him this year?

Will voters want to crown a new winner in this race, like returning nominees Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”), Will Forte (“The Last Man on Earth”), and William H. Macy (“Shameless”), or category newcomers Aziz Ansari (“Master of None”) and Thomas Middleditch (“Silicon Valley”)?

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