Emmy episode analysis: Will Jeffrey Tambor’s coming out lead to victory for ‘Transparent’?

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Jeffrey Tambor‘s quest for an Emmy may finally be coming to a conclusion as he scores a Best Comedy Actor nomination for the new Amazon dramedy “Transparent.” On the show he portrays Mort Pfefferman, a father of three grown children who comes out as transgender and starts transitioning to live as Maura. Tambor’s six previous nominations all came in the Best Comedy Supporting Actor category for playing Hank Kingsley on “The Larry Sanders Show” (1993, 1996-98) and George Bluth and Oscar Bluth on “Arrested Development” (2004-05). Tambor is in the hunt for this year’s prize with the episode “The Letting Go.”

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Maura comes home to find her oldest daughter, Sarah (Amy Landecker), cheating on her husband with her old college girlfriend. Sarah is in shock seeing her father as Maura for the first time, prompting Maura to have an emotional talk with Sarah about how she’s always felt like a woman who has had to dress up like a man. Later, Maura attends a support group for trans people and talks about how relieved she is that she’s now out to one of her kids. When the group lets out she goes back to the apartment of another trans woman, Davina (Alexandra Billings), where they discuss the issues Davina has faced in her transition and what Maura might have to look forward to.

Soon they see an ambulance crew arrive as one of the residents of the apartment complex has passed away. As Davina and Maura explore the recently deceased man’s apartment, Maura gets the feeling that this apartment might be the perfect place to start living her new and honest life.

Will Tambor’s emotional performance win him his first Emmy? Let’s weigh the pros and cons:

Tambor gets scenes with great intimacy and emotion with both Landecker and Billings.

The series exceeded most people’s expectations in netting 11 total nominations including Best Comedy, Best Comedy Writing, Best Comedy Directing and two other acting nods (Supporting Actress for Gaby Hoffmann and Guest Actor for Bradley Whitford), which shows broad support across the TV academy.

The issue of transgender rights is very relevant right now, which gives this performance an extra feeling of importance.

Tambor only has three or four scenes in the episode, so limited screen time could hurt his chances.

Nothing about Tambor’s performance is very comedic and that has hurt past nominees with similar tones to their show (Louis C.K. and Ricky Gervais) as they frequently lose to broader comic performances (Jon Cryer and Jim Parsons).

Tambor is overdue for an Emmy win but that doesn’t always matter to Emmy voters. Consider Steve Carell and Hugh Laurie, who never won.

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