(Photo courtesy of: People) “‘Fellow Travelers’ explores a relationship between two men at a time when such relationships were forbidden.”
The Showtime network is not new to creating political shows with actors in heavy prosthetic make-up, dressed as real-life historical figures, nor are they to LGBT+ centric shows. The channel has now masterfully combined the two with the on-screen talents of Jonathan Bailey and Matt Bomer to give us “Fellow Travelers”. The show is billed as a historical romance but contains many more layers than that.
The mini-series is presented as a longitudinal study of a romance between two men, Hawkins Fuller, played by Bome, and Tim Laughlin, played by Bailey, as their relationship with each other is shaped by the struggles caused by the historical period they are in and, to a lesser extent, their own personal character traits and hangups.
The series takes place from the early 50s to the late 80s in a nonlinear fashion. Viewers get a glimpse of the 80s and the introduction in the 50s during the first episode. In 50s McCarthy-era Washington D.C., the men meet at an election party and are immediately attracted to each other.
Hawk is a war hero and hypermasculine figure, while Tim is a sweet and idealistic Catholic boy. Hawk secures Tim a job as a junior assistant to Senator Joe McCarthy, leading to the seduction of Tim.
Hawk is a person who has emotional walls up and is willing to hide himself to move up the government ladder; but as he falls deeper in love with Tim, the walls start to crumble. Tim is more optimistic and, unlike Hawk, yearns to be open and free; but this yearning spurred by their romance makes him start to question his faith.
The series is beautifully crafted and highly polished. The lead performances and chemistry between Bailey and Bomer is electric. They provide the base to several graphic intimate scenes that have caused a buzz on social media. The scenes themselves do the hefty job of moving the plot forward and have a tenderness to them not usually showed in LGBT+ centric media.
The supporting performances within the show are also to be noted, with Jehlani Alladin and Allison Williams being standouts.
One can say that there is already an established route in Hollywood of LGBT+ stories with tragic endings or overtones and there should be LGBT+ stories that are more positive and optimistic in media. While heterosexual people get feel-good stories and romantic comedies about everlasting love, LGBT+ people do not. But others have pointed out that society is not in a position to stop telling these types of stories. Just as we need movies like “Red, White and Blue” and “Bottoms”, we need shows like “Fellow Travelers” to increase LGBT+ representation in media.
Overall Grade: A+