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Single Status Update
So I watched the rest of Netflix’s Tales of the City (2019) tonight.Spoiler
I supposed it was going to happen eventually. Armistead Maupin had hinted that the series has concluded long before Netflix created their miniseries. The miniseries didn’t seem to follow the last three Tales books (Michael Tolliver Lives, Mary Ann in Autumn, and The Days of Anna Madrigal) very closely. There are many continuity issues when compared with even the original six books (among other things, Michael moved away from Barbary Lane when he and Thack bought a house, and Mary Ann left Shawna a suitcase filled with her birth mother’s things).
We finally learned about Anna’s experiences when she first arrived in San Francisco. We had previously learned about her childhood and background when Mona stays at the brothel where Anna grew up. We also met Mother Mucca, Anna’s mother, whom Mona discovers when she finds her own name inscribed in a cookbook.
Barbary Lane has been given to one of the first Transwomen Anna meets when she gets to San Francisco. But it’s not clear where Mary Ann will go. It’s not even clear whether Brian will reconcile with Mary Ann and restart their relationship, although it seems apparent that Mary Ann would like that to happen. I think that Ben and Michael will probably get back together. Michael won’t be triggered by being called ‘Daddy’ now that he has acknowledged to himself that he is, in fact, an adult. Shawna will tour the world with the money Anna left her, but will be drawn back to her birthplace eventually.
While it wasn’t emphasized, the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot occurred several years before Stonewall. The Cafeteria chain is long gone, but there is a plaque commemorating the event, as shown in one of the episodes. Polk Street was the previous Gay ghetto and many Gay bars and businesses still exist in the neighborhood, but the epicenter of the SF Gay community moved to the Castro District in the Seventies when the Irish families who lived in Eureka Valley moved out to the suburbs (Eureka Valley encompasses several neighborhoods including the Castro District).
City Lights Bookstore still survives as an independent bookstore. A crowdfunding effort is raising money to keep the business alive through the Covid-19 crisis.
There are now Openly LGBTQ+ officers in the SF Police, Sheriff’s, and Fire Departments. But along with contingents of all three departments marching in SF Pride Parades, there have also been scandals. The ‘Hot Cop of the Castro’ embezzled money from the LGBTQ officer’s organization.
The conclusion of the miniseries was bittersweet. It’s unlikely that there will be another sequel.
Tales of the City was first serialized in the SF Chronicle in the late Seventies. Those newspaper columns were later edited into books. The first four bookstore all compiled from columns in the Chronicle. The fifth book, Significant Others, was serialized in crosstown rival, SF Examiner. The last four books were never serialized and first appeared as books. The books inspired four miniseries, radio and musical adaptations, and minor characters have supporting roles in Armistead’s two other novels. That’s a four decade run!
If you’ve never read the books, these are the titles:
- Tales of the City (1978)
- More Tales of the City (1980)
- Further Tales of the City (1982)
- Babycakes (1984)
- Significant Others (1987)
- Sure of You (1989)
- Michael Tolliver Lives (2007)
- Mary Ann in Autumn (2010)
- The Days of Anna Madrigal (2014)
The first three books were also published in a combined hardcover version as 28 Barbary Lane. The second three books were similarly published in a combined hardcover version as Back to Barbary Lane.
As far as the four miniseries are concerned. the first three were based on the first three novels and remained fairly close to the books. There was some controversy over the casting of a cis-woman to play Anna Madrigal, but it was less organized and easier for the producers to ignore at the time. As far as I know, none of the original major cast members were LGBTQ either, and again, protests were less organized and easier to ignore back then. They did cameo many Openly Gay actors as party guests in both Tales of the City miniseries (1993 and 2019). There was some difficulty with the casting of the main characters in the first three miniseries because there was a gap between the productions of Tales and More Tales due to meddling with PBS’ budget over the ’scandalous’ first miniseries (five major parts had to be recast). TotC 2019 includes at least two Trans actors playing Trans roles and at least three LGB actors play LGB roles (several Wikipedia pages contain no personal life information).