Armistead Maupin has left San Francisco once again, this time to London. But in the wake of his departure, we have a minute-long trailer for Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City reboot on Netflix, and boy, it is a 90-second weeper — in the sweetest possible way.
With a brief narration by Laura Linney, as part of Mary Ann Singleton’s homecoming — and set to Anohni/Antony and Johnsons’ “For Today I Am a Boy” — it makes you feel as blindly and deliriously optimistic about San Francisco as the day you arrived here, whether by car, by BART from SFO, or out of the womb. It immediately erases all thoughts of the current plague of closures afflicting the cityscape, and it subsumes everything HBO’s inferior Looking ever attempted to do while channeling Taylor Mac‘s A 24-Decade History of Popular Music.
Would that we could all be as magnificently regal as Olympia Dukakis, who turns 88 in June.
In short, this version of Tales takes off from the series of nine books to chart a new future for Mary Ann, Michael Tolliver, Anna Madrigal, and the new generation of people living at 28 Barbary Lane, no matter how unaffordable that fictionalized version of Macondray Lane would be these days.
By the looks of it, it’s got its finger on the pulse of gender and sexuality in all their full diversity. But in our sensitive age, people have rightfully griped when trans roles go to cis actors who then applaud themselves for being so openminded, effectively shutting trans actors out of every last part. This is inarguable, but Olympia Dukakis took a risk in 1992 in taking on Anna Madrigal, candidly admitting she knew nothing about the transgender experience, and working with a consultant who’d also worked with Vanessa Redgrave on the Renee Richards biopic, Second Serve.
Or, as Maupin put it during a long conversation with SF Weekly in 2017, “Olympia is coming back to play Anna again at Netflix, and I’m sure one or two unknowing people are going to be upset that a cisgender woman is playing a transgender character, and I am ready to tell them to go fuck themselves because Olympia made history when she played Anna Madrigal. … There are great transgender actors out there, and in fact we’re going to have a trans man character, Jake, who’s actually a trans man. But Olympia established that character, and caught all the shit for playing it.”
Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City premieres June 7 on Netflix.