Clear your Friday night schedule and get ready to binge-watch season two of Transparent. The groundbreaking TV series about a transgender woman, Maura Pfefferman (Jeffrey Tambor), and her family returns to Amazon with 10 all-new episodes on Dec. 11, just one day after scoring three Golden Globe nominations. The show made history at last year’s Globes, when it was the first-ever online program to win Best TV Series, Comedy, or Musical. This year, Transparent is up for that award again—and two of its stars received nominations of their own. Tambor is up for Best Actor in a TV Series for his role as Maura (he won the category last year), and Judith Light earned a Best Supporting Actress nod for her portrayal of Maura’s ex-wife, Shelly.
InStyle recently caught up with Light to discuss the show’s second season, and the veteran Who’s the Boss? actress and Tony-winning Broadway star was ready to talk all things Transparent. She revealed that while there are plenty of new plot lines in store for viewers, some things on the show won’t be changing—namely, its core values. “Transparent is all about transformation and who people are going to be,” said Light. “But really, it’s just the story of a family—and I think that’s why people connect to it.”
The show’s relatable nature keeps fans tuning in. “It’s vitally important that someone in this family comes out as transgender, but I think we all know what it’s like to have a family member decide to do something different and then deal with that,” said Light. “When you watch Transparent, what you see is that the top note is always love.” That goes for all of the Pfeffermans, Maura included. Said Light, “What she is saying to everybody in the family is, ‘This is who I really am—now, who will you really be? And will you still love me if I tell you who I really am?” And so the family begins to explore more truths about themselves. “That is what happens in the second season,” said Light. Scroll down to find out what else Light revealed about season two of Transparent.
In what ways has the Pfefferman family changed since season one?
“Every character on the show has transformed. They’ve each expanded in terms of the way they relate to each other, as well as the way they relate to themselves on an emotional, physical, sexual, and spiritual level. There is a definite change in my relationship to Maura, and Maura’s relationship to Shelly. There is a change in my relationship to myself and also to other relationships that come into our purview.”
Without giving away any spoilers, what else can we expect from season two?
“We go back in time to the origin of the Pfefferman family, and all of that story is woven in with the modern day story. There are some really profound insights from each and every one of the characters. And you will also see some of the story about Magnus Hirschfeld, a genius man who was doing research on gender and gender non-conformity in the 1930s. It’s something that, even in this day and age, we know very little about.”
After the success of season one, what was it like to return to the set to film season two?
“Jeffrey Tambor says there is genius everywhere you look on the set, and that goes to everybody who is participating from the sound team to our lighting people. It is always the same open, challenging, and connected atmosphere. Our brilliant creator, Jill Soloway, feels very strongly that we come from a place of gratitude, generosity, and grace in doing this work. So we all carry that generosity within us and welcome everybody into our family.”
So the cast is close off-camera, too?
“You’re talking about people that I feel are my long lost family. Jeffrey Tambor and I have been friends for so many years—we’re longtime friends and we’ve worked together before. There is a kind of warmth and welcoming, and people want to come and be on the show even if they’re just doing a short guest spot, because they know what a warm and welcoming place it is. We are this family making this show, and I think that is what people are seeing and feeling when they watch Transparent. I have never worked on a set like this before in my life. ”
What was the hardest scene to film this season?
“There was one scene that was a challenge for me to do—you’ll see it in the second episode. But I felt so incredibly safe and well taken care of by Jill, Jeffrey, and our cinematographer Jim Frohna. I was terrified to do the scene and didn’t think I could do it. When I told Jill that I was really nervous about it, she just made sure I was protected on all levels—and Jeffrey was totally there for me. He and Jim Frohna made me feel safe and secure and loved. There were only four of us in the room when we filmed this—and it was quite a remarkable experience.”
Do you ever become fully comfortable filming such vulnerable scenes?
“You can’t make a difference in the culture the way Jill wants to without holding this as a great responsibility, not only to the LGBTQ community, but to the culture. And if we are going to do that, we have to be a family that does this together. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t challenging and that it’s not hard work—we really work hard. We have these amazing scripts that we learn, and then we sort of let loose with them on the set and start to find the core of the scene as we’re working. It’s hard work, and you have to be close and intimate with each other in order to do it well.”
There’s been so much coverage of the transgender community in the past year in pop culture, with the premiere of Transparent and then Caitlyn Jenner’s story in the headlines. Do you think that one has affected the other?
“It happens that the story of Maura Pfefferman is about a transgender person, but the story of Caitlyn Jenner is an entirely different story. Wonderfully, they are happening at the same time. But I do know that Caitlyn is very fond of the show, and it was something that was very valuable for her. This is a story whose time has come, and the media has been so great to Transparent by talking about us and making it mainstream for people to become educated about it.”