What Happened To Shelly On 'Transparent'? Season 3 Hints At A Childhood Trauma

Transparent has always included flashbacks within its narrative to help us better understand not only the characters, but the relationships between those characters. However, Season 3 decided to take things a step further than that by introducing an episode that was entirely told in the form of flashbacks and centered around a Young Maura and a Young Shelly. Episode 8 spoilers ahead. One facet of the story revolved around Maura and how she was heartbreakingly shamed at a very young age to hide her true self, but another dealt with Shelly's backstory, which hinted at a childhood trauma that many fans may not have seen coming. And, while what happened to Shelly on Transparent was never spoken out loud, I think many can draw the conclusion that Shelly was sexually molested as a child by her elementary school music teacher.

In the flashback, viewers see a young version of Shelly in all of her glory, singing and dancing happily in front of her classmates. In fact, the teacher was so impressed with her performance that he told her to come by after school so they could work on it even further. But, when Shelly exited the classroom later that day to meet her friend, she was completely shaken — no longer smiling or really saying anything at all. The segment cut to Shelly's parents taking her to the doctor because she was refusing to eat anything. Unfortunately, while she did eventually eat again, nothing really got resolved, and Shelly kept whatever happened in that classroom to herself.

From the very beginning series, Shelly's family (and even some viewers) have sort of written her off as a more or less self-serving character, who tries to make everything be about her. That is still sometimes true, mind you, but, now that we have some context of who Shelly really is and everything she's been through, I find myself connecting with her in a way I didn't think was possible. Like Maura, she too has been harboring a very deep-seated secret, which could very well be what drew them toward each other in the first place. They saw a bit of themselves in one another.

We may not know the extent of Shelly's attack or specifics of what precisely happened, but does that really matter? It changed the way she looked at the world and made her (and us) realize that outside appearances can be misleading and not a great indicator of what's going on inside, and now fans have a greater understanding of who Shelly really is.

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