Critical Condition: Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City

Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City | Netflix, from Friday

☆☆☆☆ “Having seen the poignant but flavourless first episode of the newest iteration, I can say that it seems very little has changed on 28 Barbary Lane, the show’s residential oasis located in San Fran’s now-tony Russian Hill neighborhood. Sure, in 2019 its young inhabitants may self-consciously navigate gender, queerness and trans identities openly, or experiment with the heady waters of social media influencing for profit, but the series, as stilted and theatrical as ever, remains a time capsule of the freewheeling San Francisco come and gone.” — The Hollywood Reporter.

☆☆☆☆ “The new series splits its allegiance between characters old and new … Even as I rolled my eyes or scratched my head at various developments, the performances and the optimistic (and very Maupin) spirit buoyed me through the whole thing … And there’s a hopefulness to the endeavor that feels as needed now as it was when the original Tales appeared in written and then televised form.” — Rolling Stone.

☆☆☆☆ “It’s a promising beginning to a story that began before AIDS and continues in an era where patients live and manage their diseases, one that started when San Francisco was a bohemian swingers’ paradise and depicts, now, a city that’s both aging and rollicking with the still-extant hopes of young people. It’s enough to make fans and newcomers alike feel glad the story continued.” —  Variety.

☆☆☆☆ “The original formula of Tales of City involved putting [Laura] Linney’s screwball-comedy energy as Mary Ann at the centre of a sexed-up but fairly conventional soap opera plot. That’s still the template, but what was quirky and entertaining then — with Richard Kramer, a Thirtysomething veteran, on board as a writer and executive producer — is draggy, preachy and a little morbid now. Might as well blame it on the internet along with everything else.” — New York Times.

☆☆☆☆ “Barbary Lane’s celebrated queerness is less remarkable these days … Though such actorly appropriation is now frowned on, Olympia Dukakis is stuck playing the transgender landlady; she is perhaps ‘iconic’.” — Financial Times.

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