“Transparent” recap (1.7): Symbolic Exemplar

Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) is really concerned with what this “high femme” business is all about. I sort of have to wonder what Syd (Carrie Brownstein) meant now a few episodes back when she was being versed on the spit-roasting evening Ali was planning to have and noted that this was, “classic Ali.” Is Ali changing up her outer appearance for a TA, who happens to be trans, who thought she was a dyke, also a “classic Ali” move? Syd takes Ali shopping for “high femme” looks and Syd explains femme looks further because Ali is still having a difficult time understanding the “high” part. (Somewhere in here is a joke about how high she was on MDMA and how high femme she wants to get, too.) Am I right?


Syd: I’m low femme.
Ali: OK, so what I am?
Syd: You’re middle earth femme.
Ali: Like, the hobbit?
Syd: No, like the people who live under the subway. Like, mole people femme.

They finally find just the right outfit—a corset top with a frilly red cowgirl rockabilly skirt. The outfit shows Ali’s cleavage like whoa. Syd’s eyes light up at all the “boobage” and Ali is stunned to see this side of herself for the first time. I have a great idea: Maybe Syd and Ali should just get together. Ali likes the boobiness, and Syd has to admit she’s way into this super hotness too. I see something there.

In a flashback, a younger Ali commiserating over a dress she’s supposed to wear for her Bat Mitzvah. Maura tells her it’s a lovely dress, but Ali can’t imagine how her Dad could possibly know anything about dresses. Maura decides to try to convince Shelly to cancel the entire thing. (But we all know what her real motives are—she wants to go to that sleepaway camp weekend with Marcy.) Shelly tells Maura, “I want you to be a man and save the god damned day.”

Over at the Pfefferman house in present time, Tammy has gone ahead and taken out the midcentury fireplace and built-in bookshelves without really running it by Sarah first. Sarah is a little bit jolted at first, but then she finds Josh’s old Michael Jackson glove and pirate box and she goes into a nostalgic state. Still, she wonders if Tammy was going to throw this stuff out had she not shown up in time, and Tammy doesn’t exactly seem that concerned in easing Sarah’s mind.


Dale the TA picks up a dolled-up Ali, red boots, fringe jacket and all that high femme-ness—and takes her to his cabin in the thick woods of LA. ‘Course he’s cruising in an old truck and his cabin is totally manned out, with plaid this and masculine that. Ali seems turned on, especially when Dale pops open a beer. She immediately pops off her jacket in return. He sits down so she follows suit once more, but he says, “Nobody said you could sit down,” and she widens her eyes like a damsel in distress and obliges in this sexy, role-playing game she thinks she’s gotten herself involved in.


Somewhere in another part of town, Josh and Sarah are trying to score some medical marijuana. I’m actually not totally versed on California marijuana laws so I had no idea it could be that easy to just walk out of an office with a card and a bag in hand in a matter of hours. Then again, the doctor they speak with seems very interested in telling Sarah how sexy and attractive she is (and she doesn’t seem to mind the flattery either.) They walk out with some Jedi Kush and Sarah tells Josh about Maura’s upcoming Trans Got Talent Show that she wants everyone to come to. Josh doesn’t seem to think that’s a great idea—and no one should be surprised. To add insult to injury, Josh claims Maura has no talent, and questions what kind of possible “talent” she has now that she’s a “chick.” Oh no he didn’t!

Meanwhile back at the ranch (Dale’s house), Ali and Dale are just getting down to business. He instructs her to call her “Daddy” after everything she says. He tells her to hike up her skirt and show him her panties. She’s way into playing along. And there, underneath the red tulle and her proud stance is Ali’s bush, may we hear it roar. Dale is like, “What the fuck is that?” I already have a feeling about where this is going, and I’m right: Dale decides he’d better trim/shave/cut back Ali’s hair downstairs and for a moment I wonder if she’ll object, but she goes for that, too.