Jeffery Tambor's comeback in Arrested Development proves #MeToo doesn't guarantee permanent banishment

Gautam Chintamani

May,25 2018 16:51:37 IST

Since #MeToo and #TimesUp movements are gaining momentum, many high-profile men have been called out for their behavior towards women in the work space. The entertainment industry saw some very powerful men such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Charlie Rose, John Lasseter and Brett Ratner amongst many more being shown the door but at the same time, there have been hushed discussions as of how long before some of them are rehabilitated. The manner in which Jeffery Tambor traversed through the process to be ‘reinstated’ and even welcomed back somewhere suggests that certain things would take longer to change.

Jeffery Tambor. YouTube

Jeffery Tambor. YouTube

In a matter of months, Tambor, who, in November 2017, faced allegations of sexual misconduct by a former assistant as well as an actress, Trace Lysette, made a 'comeback' of sorts into the mainstream. The actor, who called his firing from Transparent as a “wake-up call” to be a gentleman would soon be seen in Netflix’s new season of Arrested Development. Interestingly enough, Netflix, that had fired Kevin Spacey in a matter of days from their premier show House of Cards once similar allegations against Spacey came out in the open, is fine with Tambor’s presence as the show’s shooting had nearly wrapped up by the time the Transparent scandal broke.

The course of Tambor’s so-called penance, the simplistic manner in which the actor says he learnt to be “more patient” and concept of him feeling to be more gentlemanly with his castmates reeks of a cunning convenience. This kind of distortion between what happened and how, say a Jeffery Tambor, probably interprets it all is where the trouble lies. His co-stars on Arrested Development have stood by him and in such a scenario the mere presence of the person accused is enough to send mixed signals.

While a few of his co-stars such as Jason Bateman have called him an absolute joy to work with, Alia Shawkat, who plays Tambor’s granddaughter on the show, feels that supporting both the actor and alleged victims can be “difficult.” Shawkat has called the #MeToo movement “more powerful than anything I could say” and while she would never stand against it, sexual harassment is not black and white – “There's a huge gray area that's never discussed; it's not just about bashing and dragging people through the mud.”

The manner in which this episode has played out conveys that the step-by-step guide to the rehabilitation of a sex pariah can be pre-scripted especially if the alleged offender happens to be a celebrity. Remember Tarun Tejpal’s E-mail in the wake of the allegations of sexual impropriety by a woman journalist? He wrote – “I have already unconditionally apologised for my misconduct to the concerned journalist, but I feel impelled to atone further.” This atonement as per his own words was to last six months where he had decided to step down as the editor of his magazine for he felt that “atonement cannot be just words” and added – “I must do the penance that lacerates me.”

Ironic as it may appear, Tambor’s ‘penance’, too, lasted approximately six months. A recent profile of the actor in The Hollywood Reporter pretty much implies that Tambor is now a changed man. Rather, Tambor suggests that he is not the same anymore and the article reiterates that he has done his penance. Looking at Tambor or the way heavyweight names in the Italian entertainment industry have labeled #MeToo as a sort of a witch hunt, it would not be too far-fetched to think that a Weinstein, too, can make a ‘comeback.’

When Asia Argento first spoke against Weinstein in October 2017, not only did the Italian media condemn her but also filmmakers such as Catherine Breillat called her a “traitor” and accused her of “semi-prostitution” in her relationship with Weinstein. Just a few days ago at Cannes, Asia Argento took the stage and called out Cannes crowd for its implicit support of Weinstein. There is no denying that once the ‘proper sentence’ has been served by one who is guilty, they should be given a second chance but the question here is who determines the extent of the punishment?

Updated Date: May 25, 2018 16:51 PM