Why We Need an Alternative to the Nice Jewish Boy

As a young Jewish boy, Jeffrey Tambor loved to read books. He would ask his father every night to take him down to the local library, and he would stay there until it closed. But, he told The New York Times in March last year, “I kept it a secret from my friends, as I don’t think it would have been considered the ‘coolest’ habit.” Tambor also freely describes another thing his childhood friends wouldn’t have approved of: crying. In the Times interview, he repeatedly tells of crying and weeping, both as a child and an adult.

It was this apparent intellectual resolve, emotional sensitivity, and countercultural sensibility that Tambor brought into his most recent and successful work. He became a critical darling and beloved progressive icon for portraying Maura Pfefferman, a character who transitions, on Amazon’s groundbreaking show Transparent. As the show’s star, he became something of a spokesman on trans issues, patiently explaining concepts of gender queerness to Stephen Colbert in 2014, and declaring at the 2016 Emmys that he hoped he would be the last cisgender man to play a trans character.

Jeffrey Tambor was a progressive, intelligent, sensitive man. He was the very model of the kind of man parents want their nice Jewish boys to become. He was also fired from Transparent this year for sexually harassing and assaulting three of his colleagues.

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