Jill Soloway: 'Transparent' "Isn't Ending, It's Transitioning"

Jill Soloway - H Getty 2018
Presley Ann/gettyimages

Transparent creator Jill Soloway is opening up about the show's upcoming musical finale.

Turns out, the showrunner had always thought they'd make a musical. "Right as my parent came out, the very first instinct I had before I wrote Transparent was that my sister, Faith, and I were going to make a documentary musical," they explained onstage at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, nothing that their sister is a musician who has been writing musicals for years. "As a family we were always doing musicals, so that was kind of the first impulse, was to use song — and in many ways, some people have said that Transparent has always been a show that wants to be a musical," they added, pointing to scenes that involved Maura (Jeffrey Tambor) wanting her kids to come watch her sing and Shelly (Judith Light) singing on a cruise.

When Tambor was accused of sexual misconduct last year by his former assistant Van Barnes and co-star Trace Lysette, Soloway knew they had to find an unconventional way to end the Amazon series. "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," they said. "There was no way, really, to just go back to a plain old season five."

Soloway then sat down with newly minted Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke, who said she wanted to do something big. "I said, ‘What do you think about a musical movie?'" recalls Soloway. "And she was like, 'Great.'"

Earlier during her time in front of the press, Salke noted that she signed off on the musical idea because she trusted that Soloway "would come up with something incredible — and she did." The exec added that she sat in the front row of a run-through of the musical and found herself in tears. "It is just really special," she said. "It brings the whole thing full circle and does everything you'd want it to do." When asked about potential giving the film a theatrical release, Salke emphasized that she's considering many options. "We're talking about all kinds of things," she noted. "There will be a lot of creative thinking about how to get the message out about eventizing that ending because it deserves to have a lot of eyeballs on it."

Fortunately for the show's writers, Soloway's sister had already been putting songs together for a potential Transparent Broadway musical years down the road. "We kind of dared ourselves to follow through and took all the songs, the storyline, and we just finished shooting on Friday," they said, noting they couldn't be more pleased with how the musical has turned out. "I’m in such a good mood because 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 kind of feeling of, in some ways, transition," they said, adding: "The show isn’t necessarily ending, it’s transitioning — into a musical."