Dear people, can we have your attention, please? It is Pride Month and Netflix succeeded in celebrating it, in its own way, in producing its new queer gem, Tales of the City, out since June 7th, 2019.
Adapted from Armistead Maupin’s eponym comic novel, the miniseries takes place in San Francisco and tells the story of Anna Madrigal and the community she created, in Barbary Lane.
In this house live LGBT-identifying people, but also straight people, who all together, have created an incredible family of their own.
Starring Laura Linney, Ellen Page, Paul Gross, Olympia Dukakis, Murray Bartlett and Zosia Mamet, the 10-episode series starts with Mary Ann, played by Linney, coming back to Barbary Lane for Anna’s 90th birthday, the latter being portrayed by Dukakis.
Trans actress Jen Richards is also portraying young Anna Madrigal.
After a long time away from her adoptive family, Mary Ann digs into the past to understand the present, while Anna is being blackmailed by a stranger after discovering her deepest secret. But the community is not ready to give up on their dear Anna. Tales of the City unravels Anna’s past and helps the viewer understand how Barbary Lane is suddenly threatened. Luckily, the whole community is here for their “old lady”.
The narrative also takes people back to the 60s when LGBT people were beaten up for being their true selves, arrested, even killed. A world the fighters of those times succeeded – but there is still a long way to go – to make better for the new generations.
Netflix’s Tales of the City is not the first series adapted from the book
It is not the first time Tales of the City gets its own adaptation. The first series was produced by Channel 4 in 1993 and takes place in 1976, following Mary Ann’s decision to stay in San Francisco. The series upset people as it showed nudity and drug intake.
Armistead Maupin told the BBC: “When Tales of the City appeared in America in 1994, it was the first time Americans had seen two men kissing on broadcast television. It caused an uproar with certain right-wing groups who petitioned Congress. They shut it down, essentially.”
It got, however, a great rating on PBS, in the United-States.
In 1998, More Tales of the City was released and finally, in 2001, Further Tales of the City saw the light.
Even better, Olympia Dukakis, Laura Linney and Barbara Garrick are part of the original cast.
Every LGBT character is portrayed by actors from the LGBT community
To avoid any backlash, the producers have decided to cast LGBT actors for every LGBT role, except for Anna Madrigal’s part, played by Olympia Dukakis.
Armistead Maupin said to the BBC: “I just think that a gay actor can bring something special to the role from their own experience. I’ve always wanted a gay man to play Michael Tolliver, for instance, he’s sort of my alter ego.”
A big problem remains in Hollywood concerning LGBT actors, and that is the fact that they are told not to come out to be employed.
“We’ve got many more ‘out’ actors now, but not enough. There’s still huge lies being told across the board, because agents demand that if they’re gay actors, there’s still an idea in Hollywood that the big stars can’t be gay,” Maupin added.
The author also said: “This has been a long struggle. There’s still plenty of people that need to hear it, because they believe their church or their parents, or their repressive country about who they are.”
Tales of the City is available on Netflix and you should take a day off of work only to binge it, just because it’s worth it.
Anna is, on her own, the essence of a whole community. She will make you laugh, cry but more importantly, hope for a better inclusive future.