Jeffrey Tambor is a guy who’s lost a lot in the past year. After reading a pair of interviews he’s recently done, he absolutely deserves it. Allegations of sexual harassment were brought against him by two women. One, Trace Lysette, co-starred with him on Amazon’s Transparent. The other, Van Barnes, was his personal assistant. Those accusations caused him to be fired from the show that had won him two Emmy’s for Best Actor. His performance of transgender woman Maura Pfefferman won him more than gold trophies. It made him an icon.
Now, the allegations against him may very well end his career. Transparent will go on without him, or his character. Earlier this month, he sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss the allegations against him — a first for the #MeToo movement. There, Tambor admits that “lines got blurred,” and makes some attempt to own up to his horrendous behavior.
The news of the allegations against Tambor hit right around the time Arrested Development was wrapping up filming on its upcoming 5th season, which debuts on Netflix next week. Tambor kept his job. His character, Bluth family patriarch George Sr. wouldn’t be edited out of the series. According to showrunner Mitch Hurwitz, doing so would’ve been impossible. “There would be no show,” Hurwitz explained to Entertainment Weekly, justifying his reasoning.
Earlier today, The New York Times interviewed much of the principal cast of Arrested Development, including Tambor. It’s there that Tambor himself brings up his past behavior, including lashing out at fellow cast members, directors, assistant directors, and his own assistant. Tambor’s on-screen wife, Jessica Walters, reminds everyone that she’s been on the receiving end of his wrath as well.
Jason Bateman, who plays Michael Bluth, immediately jumps in to mansplain a defense of the entertainment industry, which is ripe with ego that gives way to difficult behavior. (Bateman has already tweeted out an apology after the fallout from this interview). Alia Shawkat, however, interjects by proclaiming such behavior isn’t acceptable just because it takes place within the confines of showbusiness. “The point is that things are changing, and people need to respect each other differently,” Shawkat explains.
Then, through tears, Walters comes to the following realization.
“Let me just say one thing that I just realized in this conversation. I have to let go of being angry at him. He never crossed the line on our show, with any, you know, sexual whatever. Verbally, yes, he harassed me, but he did apologize. I have to let it go.”
At this point, Walters turns to Tambor and says “I have to give you a chance to, you know, for us to be friends again.”
It’s a noble sentiment, certainly. However, it’s Tambor’s reaction, which is an immediate “Absolutely,” that cements his unlikability. His instinctual reaction seems to imply that simply because he’s admitted to wrongdoing, and claims to try and better himself for it, that he’s somehow owed the forgiveness of anyone who has to work with him. David Cross also jumps in to defend Tambor, saying “One thing that Jeffrey has said a number of times that I think is important, you don’t often hear from somebody in his position, is that he learned from the experience and he’s listening and learning and growing.”
Because so long as the accusee has learned his lesson, then it’s all well and good, right?
Granted, forgiveness is a virtue, and if Jessica Walters is able to do so, then more power to her. But too often the notion of forgiveness is muddled with absolvement, and Tambor still has a lot to answer for regarding the allegations of his past behavior. Perhaps that’s not what he’s implying here, but it can sure come across that way.