Transparent Episode 106 Recap: Act Natural

Back in the past, Maura and Marcy are still on their secret hotel getaway. Maura is worried about “acting natural” and passing and in her nervousness acts kind of unnatural and it’s adorable. Maura and Marcy look through a pamphlet for Camp Camellia, a weekend getaway with beauty pageants and more. Maura really wants them both to go, but Marcy doesn’t think she can get away for a whole weekend. When the waitress arrives and calls them both “ladies,” spirits are boosted and it seems like maybe there’s enough good energy in the universe to make Camp Camellia happen — but then Maura realizes that the camp dates are during her kid’s bat mitzvah. Womp womp.

It's gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher, halal, locally sourced, and I whispered an e.e. cummings poem to it in the kitchen

It’s gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, vegan, kosher, halal, locally sourced, and I whispered an e.e. cummings poem to it in the kitchen

Josh is alone in the depressing greyscale hellscape that is his apartment, and is being Furtive With A Laptop. Whatever could he be doing? In keeping with the theme of these siblings using any trans people they can find as vehicles for knowledge and self-growth, Josh is logging onto a live-feed video chatroom with a trans cam girl. She’s acting as though this were a sexual encounter, because, you know, that’s what her job is, but Josh just wants to ask a lot of personal questions!

Hello, do you have a minute to talk about Jesus Christ

Aahhhhh actually running late to meet somebody, so sorry, maybe next time

This is like if you went to Starbucks and the barista kept trying to ask about what kind of coffee you wanted, and instead you tried to get them to tell you who their first kiss was with in exchange for a dollar tip. Josh could also benefit from reading Autostraddle or somebody buying him a copy of Whipping Girl or something. Josh does not really learn the answers to the burning questions he needed to know before he could decide whether to treat his parent with respect, I guess? He feels weird or something and shuts his laptop. I hope he paid like $20 a minute.

Across town, Maura and Davina have arrived for shabbos dinner! Everyone looks lovely, Maura brought flowers and Tammy is in a cute little suit situation. The kids are adorbs, Maura meets Bianca, everyone’s happy. Tammy is gonna make drinks for everyone! Yay! Probably this will be a peaceful evening of fun and serenity.


You better not let these die, too. They’re expensive you know.

Elsewhere, Josh is arriving late to Rabbi Fein’s Friday afternoon services. Fein is talking about how the Hebrews had to wander the desert for an entire 40 years because the old generation couldn’t handle the Promised Land; God needed to wait until a whole new generation was born into freedom before he could let them in. I see the parallels here, Rabbi, but honestly the younger generation in this show doesn’t seem like they can handle really anything at all.


Hey! Hi. It’s me, hi

Are you fucking kidding me

Are you fucking kidding me

Back in the Palisades, Sarah is serving dinner and telling people to turn off their cell phones, which she and Tammy learned about from Real Simple magazine. Sarah calls Maura “Moppa,” as Ali coined in previous episodes, and asks if she wants to light the candles because it’s a tradition that the mother of the family does so, so that’s nice. It’s all very cute and nice!

Now is the time. This is the hour. Ours is the magic. Ours is the power.

Now is the time. This is the hour. Ours is the magic. Ours is the power.

Back in the synagogue, Josh and the rabbi are flirting. Rabbi Fein shows him an old mikvah that she’s trying to renovate, and Josh goes ahead and sits in the little hollow in the floor where the water should go. It’s tempting to make an Oscar the Grouch reference here but I will take the high road.

Yup so just go on in, and I'll just be right behind you with the key, locking the door

Yup so just go on in, and I’ll just be right behind you with the key, locking the door

Maura is announcing her appearance at Trans Got Talent to the rest of the family, where she’s going to do a duet with Davina, and she wants them all to come! She wants them to also bring Josh, because he’s “so weird in this area,” and it does my soul good to hear Maura affirm that Josh is the one with the problem, not her.

Back in the empty mikvah, Rabbi Fein is ignoring the whole rest of her congregation to hang out with Josh and rehash her relationship history for him. She says she’s never been married, and that:

“I did get close… I ended up wasting maybe my last good years on just… the wrong person.”

She’s concerned that her eggs have all died and they’re just “crunchy, crispy old lady eggs,” and I think we’re supposed to connect this to Josh’s newfound desire for kids, but I’m focused on the fact that Rabbi Fein has avoided using any gendered pronouns to refer to anyone she’s dated. Vote for Bisexual Rabbi Fein 2014!! I’m printing campaign buttons.

So do you come here often

So do you come here often

Back at Shabbos dinner, Len has suddenly arrived, because the rule for this house is that everyone just waltzes in whenever. He and Sarah have disagreed about what time he was supposed to come pick the kids up, and I think this is the first time Len has seen Maura presenting as a woman, and also of course Tammy is there, and Len assumes that however Sarah and Tammy talked to the kids about Maura was wrong, and everything goes off the rails in a heartbeat and suddenly Len is speaking in a falsetto and threatening to cut his penis off while waving a knife around! So that happened. Obviously Len is being gross and transmisogynistic and horrifying, like basically my worst nightmare is having an argument with a man in my life who’s angry with me and then having him pick up a knife off the table, so this is all awful. Thankfully, Maura steps in and saves the day:

This is my family, Leonard. I am so sorry, this is my fault, I should have called you. Honey, I should have taken you out to lunch and we should have talked. But I didn’t do that, and I’m sorry about the Mort and the Maura and the he and the she; I’m just a person, and you’re just a person, and here we are. And baby, you need to get in this whirlpool or you need to get out of it.

Len says “I’m sorry about the knife. Good shabbos.” Family, everyone!

Ok, but not all men!

Ok, but not all men!

You know what? I actually counted, and it is all men?

You know what? I actually counted, and it is all men?


After Len and the kids have left, Maura and Sarah have cigarettes outside and dip their feet in the pool.

Sarah: I hope I’m not ruining the kids with all of this crazy stuff.
Maura: Remember our crazy stuff?
Sarah: Yeah, but it’s all blended in with the good stuff.
Maura: I’m glad you remember the good stuff.

Maura says she wants Sarah to have the house, even though she sort of implied to Josh earlier in the episode that she’d let him have some of the money from selling it. Sarah likes Maura’s toenail polish, and they sit in the dark and it’s quiet.

So it’s not really about ethics in gaming journalism?



Join us next time for more Transparent, which is hopefully set at A-Camp and Josh and Len have to stay home.

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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 your recaps really make my Fridays better.

    I wish my Amazon Prime free trial hadn’t run out so I could go look more closely at what it says on the Women’s Studies whiteboard. I loved that scene. I also want more Syd always.

  2. I loved how Maura handled the Len thing- she did it with such class and such… humanness? Is that a word? I don’t know how anyone can be so kind when someone is being that threatening.

    Being Jew(ish) I felt super touched by the lighting of the candles. It reminded me of Janani’s poem ‘trans/national’ when he talks about his grandmother in India sending him a drum and “ways of being a man that don’t involve being a white man”. This just felt like one of those tiny cultural things that can mean so much.

  3. I’ve only read the recaps, haven’t actually watched the show, but I have ALLTHEFEELINGS about that Ali/Dale exchange.

    As a masculine-leaning genderqueer person who mostly likes masculine presenting people, including trans men, I would love to see that portrayed in the media (as it seems like Ali is/will be genderqueer and that’s a big part of her awkwardness about talking about this). I identify hard with that fear of the people I’m attracted to wanting someone more femme, even though I know that’s not always true. I just wanna skip the stereotypes and bullshit and get to the kind of representation I need.

  4. Another great recap!

    Ugh, Len was so horrible in this episode! One thing this show does really well is show just how awful transphobes really are.

  5. I’ve really enjoyed all the Transparent recaps, thanks Rachel! And this is a genius analogy:
    “Trying to figure out a weeknight dinner with the non-custodial parent is like trying to get troops across the Alps and also they’re all riding gazelles and are blindfolded.”

  6. I belly laughed so hard at the not all men sequence of photos and captions, and I am in the process of making it my new computer background. THANK YOU THANK YOU

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