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‘Transparent,’ without Jeffrey Tambor, becomes an exercise in letting go


“Transparent” has a lot to say goodbye to.

One of the streaming service era’s most ambitious projects, the Jill Soloway series comes to an end with its musicale finale, a bizarre spectacle that somehow fits perfectly at the end of a bizarre show that changed TV forever.

The finale, which starts streaming on Amazon Friday, is hectic and bright and loud and, at times, skates along a razor-thin line between humor and uncomfortable. But that’s what the comedy-drama, about a family’s life after dad Mort (Jeffrey Tambor) comes out as a trans woman named Maura, is.

“It's part of our chemistry,” the characters sing at one point, “this specifically Jewish emotional form of ADHD.”

The Jewish humor, as always, stands out in this feature-length finale that acts as Season 5, but the meta-ness does too. The touching, dramatic, heartbreaking story is intermingled with absolute bizarre scene breaks.

The show kills off Maura, since Tambor was fired after the fourth season amid several allegations of sexual harassment from his “Transparent” colleagues as well as his former makeup artist from a past film. She dies at the beginning of the finale, off screen, during surgery. And while the finale is mostly about her death, it’s also about letting go of your past, letting go of the parents who never quite figured it out, of your gender identity and maybe even your religion. It’s also about letting go of a toxic co-star.

“By the time we came back, we were all ready,” Amy Landecker, who stars as Maura’s oldest child, Sarah Pfefferman, told the Daily News. “There was a lot to process. A lot of grief. But by the time we came back, everyone felt this real joy.”

The Pfeffermans are trying to come to terms with Maura’s death and also force their way through the fog of their series-long identity crises. Sarah contemplates her own family and explains the Holocaust to her kids (it’s somehow more uncomfortable than it sounds). Maura’s youngest child Ali (Gaby Hoffman), now going by Ari, balances her faith. And middle child Josh (Jay Duplass) dives into his sex addiction. Maura’s ex-wife Shelly (Judith Light) puts her life to music.

The songs — including one which Landecker, 49, describes as both “anxious ‘Godspell’” and “Jewish Christ Superstar” — are sung with the vigor of performers who know they can’t really sing and also don’t care, which is the best combination. Light, who’s starred on Broadway and won Tony Awards, is the exception. Although whatever Kathryn Hahn, who plays Rabbi Raquel Fein, is doing during her number should go down in history.

The Pfeffermans were always a mess, and that’s why fans loved them: they felt like home and fought like your family fought, messed up like your family did, and loved like your family loved. And now they say goodbye.

“This has been such a transformative, moving, complicated, brilliant experience,” Landecker told The News. “And what is the best way to close that out? Singing and dancing.”