Is there transparency that others can see in our truth? Will our truth connect us, or will it isolate us from those around us? Does living our truth come with consequences? Everything that motivates me to work with storytellers is about getting them to understand their truth and use it to connect with their audience by adding fiction to it. This idea inspired my first book, Story Line: Finding Gold In Your Life Story. Truth has led so many writers toward success. When you come from truth, we feel your story.
Jill Soloway’s phenomenal and awe inspiring new show Transparent, on Amazon Instant Series, was inspired by her real life moment when three years ago she received a call from her retired father, a psychiatrist. He told her that he was coming out as transgendered. Jill’s response was that of compassion. She wanted her father to know and feel that her love was still unconditional.
Jill had known since her work on “Six Feet Under” that she wanted to develop a family show. Her parent’s phone call gave her the inspiration that she needed. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Jill is quoted as saying, “I wanted to make something that would make the world safer for my parent.” The truth in her inspiration has sparked a new series that will make you laugh and cry.
In Jill’s interview with Rolling Stone, she mentions that the show Transparent is 98% fiction. What I want writer/creator/storytellers to realize is that even 2% of your emotional truth can inspire a show idea that connects with and resonates with audiences on a universal level, even if they may have thought they had absolutely no connection with the actual concept. What Jill so brilliantly explores in her show are the ideas of love, acceptance, truth, courage, consequence, secrecy, and choices made. Transparent gets to the heart of a beautifully flawed family. It shows how the secret kept by the parents has a domino affect on the emotional lives of their children and how they approach love, sex, and companionship. Jill’s creation of Transparent illustrates how our real life moments can inspire the world of a show that connects with the heart and the spirit of all of us.
Everything that I teach writers focuses on how to make the audience feel your story. When you come from truth and know how to add fiction to it, we will feel it. Jill does this in every episode. The character of Maura (the father that comes out as transgendered), played by Jeffrey Tambor, is probably one of my favorite characters ever written for TV. She has so much heart, courage, and vulnerability. You feel her journey and her desire to explore and be accepted for who she is, a transgender woman. In the beginning of the show, one of Maura’s trans mentors tells her that when you live this kind of truth, you often lose your friends and family in the process of being your true self. I loved the exploration of this difficult truth in the show, and I found myself mesmerized by every episode.
Each child in Maura’s family approaches love and sex in a different way. The choices that they make, stemming from the secrecy of their childhood, often lead to consequences as they all stumble toward what they really want in life and why they want it. I found myself in tears so many times during the 10 episodes of this exquisite show. I also found myself laughing out loud at the absurdity of the choices that we make when it comes to our quest for real love and acceptance.
I identified with the issues of each of the children in a way that made me understand more about my own quest and desire for true love. We all make mistakes along the way. We all want to find truth. We all want to be accepted for our truth. I think one of the gifts of this show is that it illustrates that our choices mean something. They take us where we need to go, teach us lessons along the way, and wake us up to our own flawed worldview that leads us to sabotage the outcome that we think we want, but don’t know how to attain. We are one in this quest.
In my own life, I have recently fallen deeply in love with a man who truly sees all of me. I made a choice earlier in life that led to a divorce. The pain that followed led me to do the emotional work I needed to do in order to recognize true love when it arrived. When it did, my heart was open. Now, I feel like I am going through love for the first time because the lessons learned along the way woke me up to actions that I was taking that were leading me away from the outcome that I desired. By aligning my actions with the desired outcome, when love finally appeared, I was able to see and appreciate it in a whole new light. When we learn to connect with our own truth and operate from a place of authenticity, we attract others that are in the same place. The key is doing the emotional work to connect with self. So, seeing a show like Transparent, even though it’s a world that I don’t know anything about, made me feel the story and the characters because like them, I am on a constant quest for love, acceptance, truth, and fulfillment. We all are.
If you take a grain of your emotional truth, you can create a series that will connect with your audience and pave the way like Jill did to a world that is safer and more tolerant and accepting of people that choose to live their emotional truth. This is what story is all about. It is about understanding what it is that you want to say by using your life moments to affect the greater good. Bravo to Jill for sharing her vision and for putting together an insanely talented group of writers, actors, and directors to get her message out there. Her truth is our gain.