Netflix has confirmed that a 10-episode follow-up to Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City is currently in production and will air next year. And it’s sure to be packed to the brim with brilliant stars.
For those unfamiliar with the series, Tales of the City follows the intermingled lives of a bunch of cool peeps living on the edge in San Francisco, each character as eccentric as the next. There’s Mary Ann Singleton (played by Laura Linney in the original, confirmed to reprise her role for the new series) – a naïve-come-wary outsider in the city; Michael Tolliver (originally played by Marcus D’Amico, later by Paul Hopkins) – her gay BFF doubling up as a queer tour guide; Anna Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis) – the landlady everybody loves (she tapes joints to her tenants’ doors); and Connie Bradshaw (Parker Posey) – just one of the tens of colorful characters who help shape Mary Ann’s rollercoaster life.
For many, particularly those in the LGBTI community, Tales of the City provided an escape into a world where their alternative lifestyles could be highlighted and celebrated. There are ardent straight folk; characters confused about their sexuality; others confident and forthright; even a couple who have gone through the challenges of gender reassignment. In short, there’s someone for everyone to relate to in this brilliantly convoluted look at alternative urban life.
Three of Maupin’s books have already been turned into mini-series: Tales of the City, More Tales of the City, and Further Tales of the City (get the gist?). The original series were aired at a time when queer entertainment on television was rare, and even then it was difficult to find since its airing hours were out of range (late night on Showtime in the US, after midnight on SBS in Australia).
Now we can expect exciting storylines to be plucked from later novels like 28 Barbary Lane, Back to Barbary Lane, Goodbye Barbary Lane (that pattern again), Significant Others, Babycakes, and Michael Tolliver Lives.
The new Tales of the City will see Mary Ann’s life 20 years on, now going through mid-life challenges, in a world overloaded with technology and info… but coping with it all in the company of her besties. The central character returns to San Francisco and is reunited with her daughter Shawna (to be played by Ellen Page) and ex-husband Brian, after leaving them behind to pursue her career. Fleeing the midlife crisis that her picture-perfect Connecticut life created, Mary Ann is drawn back into the warped world of Anna Madrigal and the residents of 28 Barbary Lane.
Other actors we’re hoping will be taking up residence in the new series include Mary Kay Place, Billy Campbell, Thomas Gibson, and Barbara Garrick, all of whom shone in the original.
We’ll have to wait till early next year to stream the new Tales of the City but we bet, given the show’s very progressive narrative, there’s going to a whole bunch of interest in it. Antonino Tati & Lisa Andrews