Transgender Comedy Isn’t Such a Hit After All
By Aaron Minguez, Contributing Writer
For a few years, Amazon Prime, the online giant’s video streaming service, has been touting the critical success of its original TV program, TRANSPARENT.
TRANSPARENT features a transgender main character named Mort (played by Jeffrey Tambor), whose three adult children are so self-absorbed they fail to notice that something has changed for their divorced, girlfriend-less father. The show revolves around Mort’s LA family and the impact of his admission to them that he no longer identifies as a male.
The program’s controversial subject matter made it a quick darling of critics and Hollywood. Its first season was nominated for three Golden Globe Awards and 11 Emmy’s. Ultimately, the show won five awards, including outstanding directing for a comedy series and best lead actor in a comedy series, awarded to Jeffrey Tambor. Both Jill Soloway, the program’s creator, and Tambor would use the award as a political soapbox for the transgender movement.
However, despite its success with the Hollywood, critical establishment, TRANSPARENT has failed to find success in the only metric that truly matters – viewership.
A recent report by Variety outlines the most recent ratings from measurement company Symphony Advanced Media. Its report shows that, despite heavy promotion from Amazon and critics, TRANSPARENT continues to fail to gain traction among viewers. “Looking at Sept. 21 to May 2, roughly the same period as the broadcast TV season,” Symphony found that Season Two for TRANSPARENT averaged only a 0.68 rating among adults 18-49 and only 1.49 million total adult viewers.”
TRANSPARENT flounders in comparison to Amazon’s other hits like MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, which averaged a respectable 1.42 demo rating and 3.44 million total adults. The show’s ratings compare even more abysmally against competitor Netflix’s half-hour streaming originals. For example, Netflix’s FULLER HOUSE averaged an 11.31 demo rating and 21.51 million total adults, and THE RANCH rated a 4.34, or 9.54 million.
TRANSPARENT’s ratings are even more troubling considering that Amazon’s video service has surged in usage in the last year, jumping to third place behind Netflix and YouTube in North America.
TRANSPARENT’s lack of appeal to viewers is unsurprising to everyone but Hollywood’s decision makers and left-leaning television critics. It might be expected that streaming demographics, which skew younger, would be more accepting of a show like TRANSPARENT. However, programs like MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, FULLER HOUSE and THE RANCH, which promote more traditional values (some more successfully than others) continue to enjoy wide appeal. As a result, these programs continue to dominate the ratings.
Of course, these ratings from Symphony mirror MOVIEGUIDE®’s findings in its Annual Report to the Entertainment Industry, which shows year in and year out that relatively family-friendly movies and television programs with Christian, moral, traditional, and conservativevalues are far more popular than edgy, controversial programs mocking those values, such as TRANSPARENT.
The good news is that, by promoting MOVIEGUIDE®’s findings at the Annual Faith and Values Awards Gala every February before the Oscars, MOVIEGUIDE® has been able to encourage Hollywood decision makers to make many more family-friendly movies and programs with Christian, moral, traditional, and conservative values.