The future of Amazon's hit series Transparent was up in the air last year after its star, Jeffrey Tambor, was accused of sexual misconduct and eventually resigned from the show. Following a period of uncertainty, showrunner Jill Soloway announced that the final installment of the series would actually take the shape of a movie musical.
The Transparent musical doesn't have a premiere date yet, though production on the project did wrap recently, and Soloway told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Wednesday some of the inspiration for the unexpected finale. As they explained, Soloway originally envisioned telling their parent's coming out story as a musical with their sister Faith. That idea eventually gave way to the critically acclaimed Transparent, but the idea of a musical element always stayed in their mind.
"[Transparent] was such a beautiful experience and in many ways, some people have said Transparent has always been a show that wanted to be a musical," said Soloway. "There's these musical numbers and there's always these scenes about Laura (Carrie Aizley), who wanted the kids to come see her sing, and Shelly (Judith Light) singing on the boat. And when everything went down last year and we lost Jeffrey Tambor, we went through so much as a family that felt like this very emotional — there are no words, there is no way to really just go back to a plain old Season 5 and try to just repair by going back."
Eventually, Soloway said, the head of Amazon Studios Jennifer Salke asked what their dream would be for continuing Transparent, and that's when Soloway returned to the musical idea.
"We kind of dared ourselves to follow through and come through and take all of Faith's songs that she'd been writing — Faith was already starting to put songs together for a possible Transparent musical five years down the road on Broadway — so we took the songs, we took the storyline and we just finished shooting on Friday," Soloway said. "We were able to do something that I feel like is going to astonish and reward fans and was a way to take music and transform the family to be able to come together and have that feeling of, in some ways, transition. The show isn't necessarily ending, it's transitioning into a musical."
Jennifer Salke also gave her thoughts on the project at the press tour Wednesday, saying, "For us, we would never have wanted to take a special, incredible show like that and just end it unceremoniously. It was Jill's idea to do a musical movie and so we signed off on that idea, trusting [them] that [they] would come up with something incredible, which [they] did. ... It is really special. I think it's going to be an incredible — and not just special because it's so creatively, wonderfully done and such an incredible team executing it. It also brings the whole thing full circle at the end. I don't want to give away much about it, but it does everything that you would want it to do."
As for how the show has changed since the accusations against Tambor came out and his subsequent exit, Soloway said they tried to create space for discussions to happen about these kinds of issues.
"Over the past year, [we've had] many gatherings getting together and talking about naming our workplace norms so that people really understand what they can expect and who to go to, where to go and what to do with feelings that some things may not be as they want them to be," Soloway said. "So we are taking it seriously, of course. I think it starts with thinking of work as a place where people's emotional safety and emotional health comes first, especially in art making where the whole idea is to bring your vulnerability and feelings to work, but do it in a place where you feel like you can have that respect and have that safe space."
The Transparent movie musical is expected to premiere on Amazon in fall 2019.