Transparent Episode 103 Recap: This Isn’t Us, It’s Me

Since our last voyage on the good ship Transparent, Amazon has announced that Transparent will be renewed for a second season! Apparently Transparent is currently the top-ranked Prime Instant Video series, although Amazon hasn’t given out any numbers about precisely how many people have watched it. Aside from questions about Amazon vs. Netflix, though, there seems to be at least one more important takeaway: between Transparent and OINTB, if you make shows about trans and/or queer women, people watch them! Are you writing this down television studios! Okay great, onto the recap.

We’re in Maura’s house as she packs up her entire past in order to move, and Sarah is helping. Maura is drinking some sort of brown liquor out of a brandy snifter — it may even be brandy, in fact — which sounds like a great idea, actually, thanks for suggesting that, Maura.


That was just not a good look for great-aunt Greta

Maura says that she’s going to come out to Josh next, and Sarah offers to be there for it, as well as reminding Maura that there’s no good time to come out; it’s “like having a baby. It just shows up and you figure it out.” Maura asks if Sarah’s ok with Maura’s identity, and Sarah is very sweet if a little fumbly and sort of wince-inducing, telling Maura how “inspiring” it is that she’s “being herself.” It’s sort of the worst whenever you tell someone that the fact of their being is “inspiring” you, like their life is a UNICEF commercial, but at least Sarah’s trying.


No seriously, this womyn’s macrame class has really unlocked my joy

Maura very politely asks how long Sarah and Tammy have been “carrying on,” and backpedals by saying “It’s none of my business.” Actually I feel like the moment Sarah and Tammy broke into her house to try to have sex on her bed it became her business, but Maura is a better person than I am. It doesn’t matter if it’s Maura’s business or not, because Sarah REALLY WANTS TO TALK ABOUT TAMMY. She says she’s obsessed with her and can’t stop texting her and is falling in love, and is confused about why Maura isn’t as thrilled by this news as she is. DANGER WILL ROBINSON. But it’s clear at this point Sarah is already on the bad idea train and nothing will get her off it. Maura asks what this means for her and Len, and if she still loves him, to which Sarah responds “No!” like she’s a fourth grader being asked if she wants to catch cooties.


I told you you need to start using those Pledge furniture wipes, they really make a difference

Maura gently suggests that Sarah, you know, tell Len what it is she wants out of a relationship if she’s not getting it from him, but Sarah doesn’t want to do that because the point is that they’re supposed to know without you saying anything, DUH. Ugh this is the worst — I was just talking with a heartbroken gay dude in somebody’s kitchen about this last night! That’s like the absolute most harmful thing you can do, is set someone up to read your mind about what you what in a relationship and then get mad when they don’t do it right. When I have my own show like Oprah y’all are going to hear a lot about this.

Anyways, Sarah is gonna stay the night at Maura’s, presumably because she doesn’t wanna see Len. I have no idea where her kids are or what they’re doing. It’s a striking contrast that Maura is really worried about how her decisions will affect her kids even though her identity is her own business and won’t hurt anyone else, and Sarah seems totally unfazed by the idea of potentially upending her kids’ whole lives along with her marriage. Sarah ends the evening by leaving Tammy a sappy voicemail (voicemails plural?) that is so saccharine it’s hard to listen to. GET A GRIP YOU TWO. Poking around the room she’s sleeping in, she finds a bunch of empty cereal boxes that are being used to store a bunch of letters and photos, including a sultry one of a lady labeled “xoxo Rita.” THE PLOT THICKENS. Remember Rita from the pilot? You will soon!



Over in the hipster house of horrors, Josh is leaving a bunch of bratty voicemails for his girlfriend, whose name I have finally discovered — Kaya! He interrupts her sister from, you know, actually trying to make music, as is their job, to poutily try to make her collude in getting Kaya to call him back. When he tells her he wants to marry Kaya, Kaya’s sister comes through with the best line of the episode (and this episode has a lot of good lines):

Oh my god, you weird old sad fellow! Married? Are you living in a fucking dream world?


Did you seriously just describe Courtney Love as “Kurt Cobain’s girlfriend?” You don’t even deserve to touch my signed Live Through This vinyl.

After this he’s gonna go home and make his AIM away message a sad Green Day lyric so that everyone knows how ~*tortured*~ he is.

Josh’s phone rings again but it’s not Kaya, it’s Sarah telling him he has to come help Maura pack as a ruse to get him to the house so that Maura can come out to him, and in order to do so she sort of threatens him with her knowledge of The Cereal Boxes, and we learn that Rita, aka Creepy Rita, was once “the babysitter.” This seems like it was probably something super healthy and good!


Yes I’d like ten more shirts just like this please, thank you

Over at Ali’s, Carrie Brownstein has returned! Her sweater is really cute. She’s brought over some MDMA for Ali and has cleared her weekend so they can take it together — oh wait, Ali actually has other plans, she wanted to take it with Derek and his roommate and try to initiate a threesome. Were we ever so young? Carrie takes the news like a champ. Everyone needs a friend like Carrie, who will just sigh and roll with it when she finds out about your probably ill-advised sex plans for the drugs that she so gallantly got for both of you. Let’s all try to be a little more like Carrie today.


What do you think, two or three fingers? What do I do with my thumb? Does Autostraddle have an article on this?

Anyhow Ali demonstrates “spit-roasting” for Carrie with a variety of condiments, which Ali learned about from porn but Carrie doesn’t watch porn, and we learn that Ali has a fetishistic thing for black guys. It’s unclear whether maybe Carrie Brownstein has Romance Feelings for Ali and that’s why she’s not crazy about this plan or whether it’s maybe just not that great a plan.


Fuck, marry, kill: Nicky, Poussey, and Alex Vause


WOW okay you’re just gonna spring that on me, wowowow, this is literally impossible

Maura is only taking like eight boxes with her when she moves, which I am crazy jealous of because I always think that’s what I’m going to do and then I end up in the new place with like four different pairs of black rain boots and someone else’s armoire. She’s nervous about Josh coming over but is trying not to be because Maura is the bravest in the world. Also you can see a repurposed Amazon shipping box behind her. Getting very meta over here.


You let the cat out again? You had one job.

When Josh does show up, though, Maura goes back into the house and only reappears after some time, changed back into cargo shorts and a short-sleeved button-down with no makeup. Which is totally fine! It’s really scary and I would never want to tell Josh anything personal about myself because he’s capable of being super insensitive and awful. Josh does, however, notice Maura’s perfume, and concludes that she’s got a new girlfriend and is moving in with her. Ach! This is hard. There’s just so much to not know and not get about another person, even someone you love.


Wait, so this is a vibrator? How does it turn on? I don’t see a button. Why does it keep making that ticking sound.

Starsweep to 1992, where Maura is at an adult bookstore. She’s at the porn mag rack looking for magazines featuring trans women, because this is before widely accessible internet and this is one of the only ways she can see images of trans women and affirm that they exist. The magazine rack is small so she has to stand next to a dude, which seems less than ideal. They communicate in whispers because porn, with this stranger dude suggesting creative ways to hide porn magazine subscriptions and Maura chuckling nervously. It is difficult to imagine a more uncomfortable human interaction than this.


I can see my reflection in your shiny, shiny forehead

When Maura has purchased her magazine, she walks back out to the car and we find that all of her kids are waiting for her, with Baby Sarah singing along to a Walkman. Her voice is really good, probably Adult Josh should offer her a record deal. Maura has brought back candy for all of her kids, and tells them not to make a peep, and Ali and Josh look at each other and adorably sing out “Peeeeeeep!” in unison. Who knew how irritating you could grow up to be, little ones!


Plotting to trade Squirtle for Charmander because Blue Version just isn’t that great

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

Rachel has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. Rachel I am really excited for the day that you have your own show like Oprah.

    Also, the kill/fuck/marry Nicky/Poussey/Alex thing is so difficult it’s making me kind of anxious.

    100% on this recap.

  2. This was another amazing recap! I’m so glad you’re doing these!

    But you missed my second favorite part of the episode (after “you weird old sad fellow!” which I’m probably going to use any time a guy is being weird old and sad) which is when Josh is there and Maura has changed and decided not to come out to him, but then she’s talking and notices her nails, which still have polish on them, and she stands in a way to hide her fingers, which is totally something I did a million times before I was totally out and i loved that they captured that little moment.

    Also, I really liked that Josh Lyman was there trying to help Maura buy the trans magazine and giving her tips on how to hide it. Good job West Wing.

    Also, josh was so horrible in this episode. He really is a weird old sad fellow.

    • omuhgawd… the nail thing… with me it was painted toenails when i got home from a vacation, switched into my flip-flops and rushed out quick to the grocery store… only to run into a couple of cop friends. the side-eye was pretty intense…

  3. Rachel, I really want to thank you for writing these recaps. I have a lot of Feelings on this show and you excellently articulate many of my thoughts.

    Am I the only person who didn’t really like this show first but kept watching and at a not-easily-defined point just suddenly loved it?

    • I thought it was decent and had potential for the first few episodes but didn’t get what everyone was freaking out about. Now I do! So I hear you.

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