*this article contains spoilers. head to Netflix to binge watch Tales of the City!
I discovered Tales of the City during one of my nights of scrolling through Netflix. Okay, okay… Let’s be real; I saw Laura Linney’s face and automatically clicked play (yeah, I’m the girl that will watch anything starring Laura Linney because I love her). I’m also guilty of failing to read the series description. However, once it started, I was pleasantly surprised. Perhaps this would become my new obsession. As I continued watching, it did, in fact, become my new obsession. Now that I’m hooked on this very important, cultural, societal, and relevant television series, I’ve decided you should be too! Are you ready to venture to Barbary Lane? The glitter, the laughter, the love, the family, the acceptance… it’s all waiting for you.
Tales of the City is based on the book series by Armistead Maupin. The original mini-series aired in 1993. It starred Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, and many other well-known actors. Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis reprised their roles for the Netflix series. The show begins with Laura Linney’s character (Mary Ann Singleton) returning to San Francisco, California and ultimately, the beloved Barbary Lane. Ah, Laura Linney… I swoon. However, it’s so much more than Laura Linney (although she’s a huge part of it). Tales of the City is… enchanting.
Here’s why you should watch Tales of the City:
- 1. Visibility For The LGBTQ+ Community
Barbary Lane is home to many members of the LGBTQ+ community. Within the walls of this apartment complex (owned by Anna Madrigal- played by Olympia Dukakis) reside queer young and older individuals. Anna Madrigal is also a member of the LGBTQ+ community (we discover her story of being transgender in the 1960s later in the series). Needless to say, Tales of the City creates visibility and therefore, validity for individuals watching the show. It’s also amazing for representation!
- 2. Strong, Powerful, And Sexually Liberated Characters
Not only are the characters of Barbary Lane queer characters (which we need more of for representation), but these characters are strong, powerful, and some are sexually liberated. Michael “Mouse” Tolliver (Murray Bartlett) is a gay man living with HIV. He has lived at 28 Barbary Lane for years and watches the younger queer generation grow up and attempt to thrive. Shawna (Ellen Page) navigates her way through life while coping with the constant pain of growing up without her mother. Although she experiences this pain, and it may seem fresh at times, Shawna remains fearless. She also loves her queer family, wholeheartedly. Shawna does not verbally label her sexuality, but we know she has experiences with both men and women. This plays into her being sexually liberated because she actively enjoys threesomes with men and women.
Margot Park (May Hong) is a young lesbian attempting to discover who she is sexually, and what she wants. Margot begins struggling with how to define herself because others tell her what she is. However, she remains strong and starts living for herself. Margot is also sexually liberated and comfortable with her body, which shows through her job as a dancer. Jake Rodriguez (Garcia) is Margot’s boyfriend and he is a trans man. Jake is now comfortable in his true skin since his transition. He does not only feel like a new person on the outside but on the inside as well. Jake begins exploring his sexuality with gay men and openly discusses this. This makes him a strong character.
Those in the LGBTQ+ community can see themselves in these strong, powerful, and sexually liberated characters.
- 3. Introduces Safe Space For A Community
In their community, the characters of Barbary Lane spend a lot of time hanging out and working at Body Politic, a queer, burlesque bar in their area. This is where the characters are safe. They embrace their sexualities, their bodies, and feminist concepts.
- 4. Queer Actors Playing Queer Characters
One major step Tales of the City takes is hiring queer actors to play the characters. Ellen Page, Garcia, and Jen Richards are all members of the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, it’s very important that transgender actors (Garcia and Jen Richards) play transgender characters, and that is exactly what Tales of the City did! The representation is incredible.
- 5. Love And Acceptance
The last reason you should watch Tales of the City is simply because of the love and acceptance that is shown. There is pure love for the community, for individuals, and for life! Everyone accepts one another, embraces one another, and lifts each other up. It’s magical.