Amazon original series 'Transparent' angles for streaming-TV binges too
The dark-comedy series gives Amazon its best shot so far at beating Netflix at the critical-accolades game, and in a new turn, all episodes go up at once September 26.
Amazon's original-TV-series push, overshadowed by Netflix since its beginning, is taking a couple of pages out of its bigger rival's playbook with Amazon's next show.
Amazon said Wednesday that it will release all 10 episodes of "Transparent" on Prime Instant Video in the US and UK on September 26. Like Netflix's programs, the dark comedy has critical buzz and a creator with impressive bona fides. Also like Netflix, Amazon will make it available in a big, binge-able bunch.
Amazon's Prime Instant Video -- part of its $99-a-year Prime membership program best known for free two-day shipping -- has been playing catch-up with its bigger competitor in subscription streaming video from the start but lately has made strides to close the gap. It picked up a cache of top children's programming last year after Netflix' licensing agreement with Viacom lapsed, and it sealed a deal with HBO in April that scored popular programs from the premium cable channel exclusively.
But Amazon's original series for adults have been also-rans to Netflix' splashy releases of "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black," both of which became staples of TV award shows and water-cooler conversation. Amazon's originals so far have included the John Goodman vehicle "Alpha House," and "Betas," about a Silicon Valley startup, without major stars in its principle cast. Neither generated as much heat as Netflix' offerings when they were released on a weekly basis to Prime subscribers starting late last year. There have also been a handful of pilots.
"Transparent," however, has already started to generate early buzz after it and a handful of other shows were previewed to Amazon customers as part of the e-retailer's last "pilot season" in February. And Amazon has jettisoned its practice of making new episodes available week to week, opting for the Netflix tactic of putting all episodes up at the same time. The strategy has worked to drum up social chatter about Netflix series, as viewers binge-view the episodes.
The half-hour dark comedy from Jill Soloway, an Emmy-nominated writer on "Six Feet Under" who won a directing award at Sundance last year, tracks a Los Angeles family as its patriarch's secret life comes out. Skirting outright spoilers, the series' title is a pun. It stars Jeffrey Tambor -- known for playing George Bluth Sr. in Netflix's "Arrested Development," among his long list of credits -- as well as Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass.