Armistead Maupin’s famous book series Tales of the City illustrating the life a group of interlinked individuals in the hey days of 70s San Francisco is receiving a revival, or more aptly a continuation to the story, 26 years since the series’ first foray into TV. Maupin, like in the original show, stands in as executive producer to the limited miniseries, launching on Netflix on the 7th June.
The series is based 20 years since its protagonist Mary Ann Singleton, played by Laura Linney who also starred in the original, left San Francisco. Now in throws of a midlife crisis she flees her picture perfect Connecticut life returning to her spiritual home to be reunited with her daughter Shawna (Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian (Paul Goss), who she left behind to pursue her career. She is quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal (a role also reclaimed by the series' original Olympia Dukakis) and the residents of 28 Barbary Lane where she used to live. The new series features recurring role by trans actress Daniel Vega, Girl’s Zosia Mamet as Shawna’s girlfriend, 80s super star Molly Ringwald and Rupaul’s Drag Race winner Bob the Dragon.
When the first series came out it in 1993, the show was ground-breaking and forward-thinking, in a likely conservative, post-AIDS TV realm, as it depicted true to life accounts of LGBTQ lives through stand-alone un-stereotypical gay and trans characters. But also presenting an alternative and liberal way of life, where the various characters (gay or straight) voraciously explored themes of sex, open relationships, gender bending, recreational drug use and spirituality.
The trailer suggests that the series maybe more of a tear-jerker and less subversive than its predecessor, with Mary Anne appearing older and more sombre, a mood that is further endorsed by an accompanying melancholic soundtrack by Anthony and the Johnstons. However even if LGBTQ themes are a more common occurrence in TV these days, hopefully some of the vibrancy and exuberance of the original series will still be there.
Tales of The City will be available on Netflix from the 7th of June, 2019.
Words by Daniel Theophanous @danny_theo_.
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