Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City (2019)
May 26, 2019 11:45 AM   Subscribe

On June 7, Netflix will release the latest installment of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City. Official trailer. The original 1993 adaptation of Maupin's books about San Francisco's LGBTQ+ community starred Laura Linney, Paul Gross, and Olympia Dukakis, all reprising their roles in 2019. The new series features Lauren Morelli (Orange is the New Black) as show runner and executive producer; new cast include Ellen Page, Victor Garber, Charlie Barnett (Russian Doll), and Daniela Vega (A Fantastic Woman). Featurette with clips and interviews. Indiewire: As a way to offset the original casting choice [to have cis actress Olympia Dukakis play trans character Anna Madrigal, executive producers Lauren Morelli and Alan Poul have incorporated a pivotal storyline from her past told in flashbacks and starring out trans actress Jen Richards as Madrigal. posted by hurdy gurdy girl (16 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Looking forward to this. I was initially given the first few books soon after I moved to San Francisco in 1992 by gay newspaper editor Brian Jones. I’ve kept up with the series and it’s always great to have a spark of recognition of some local site or person. And it’s interesting that what started as contemporary depiction when written has matured into historical detail. And it’s a thrill to spot Armistead himself. I highly recommend the recent documentary The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin (Fanfare).
posted by larrybob at 12:28 PM on May 26 [3 favorites]

Wow, everyone must be grilling or whatever the obligatory pre-holiday stuff is--only one comment so far. I haven't seen the series, but I wanted to say that Tales of the City is one of my favorite books, and I am not usually a novel kind of person (I guess it's a novel, right?). I look forward to watching, and hope that I will feel that the series doesn't take a dump on the book. For some reason, it seems like films rarely live up to the books that inspired them and vice versa (especially vice versa, in fact).
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 12:31 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]

Wait, Maupin has some kind of role in the show? Okay, now I am definitely in. Oddly enough, I had no idea there were more books. I feel like a dumbass for not checking, but a lucky dumbass, since there is nothing quite like finding a book by an author you loved that you never heard about before.
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 12:38 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]

Oh wow, this is so great--I hadn't even known it was in the works! One of my fondest memories of my brief sojourn in SF in the late 70s was following the original book as it was serialized in the Chronicle. That now seems such an unutterably different city and world--I'll be interested to see how they mesh past and present. Thanks for posting this!
posted by Kat Allison at 1:07 PM on May 26 [1 favorite]

This may get me to read the last few books in the series; I'd stopped after Sure of You, not only because it was a bummer but because it felt like an ending.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:07 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]

Books 7-9 are definitely worth reading, Halloween Jack.

Michael Tolliver Lives is a stylistic departure from the rest of the series -- if a series that varies so much already can be said to have a stylistic departure -- and is quite good.

Mary Anne in Autumn is one of the weaker books of the series overall in my opinion, but the parts that focus on characters like Shawna and Jake are among its best elements, and it sure looks like the TV series is going all in on those (my main issues with the book are first that it retreads some of the territory covered in Michael Tolliver Lives, and second that by now, the series has long outgrown the implausible potboiler plots of its early days, and the return of that element in Mary Anne in Autumn felt like an awkward intrusion from a different novel.)

The Days of Anna Madrigal is a fitting and fabulous farewell to the series, and the characters. I loved it.
posted by kyrademon at 1:38 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]

I remember reading the first few in the series not long after I moved to the Bay Area, and they made me nostalgic for a place I'd never been, as the easygoing city of the books had already disappeared except in odd corners.
posted by tavella at 2:34 PM on May 26 [4 favorites]

[this is frood]
posted by nikaspark at 7:18 PM on May 26 [2 favorites]

maupin had cameos á la Hitchcock in the original adaptations

poor lexy :,-(
posted by brujita at 12:49 AM on May 27

When I saw this I got all breathy and light headed, in other words, very excited.
I'm thinking to myself, yes, a must see, but first I want to re-read the original 9 volumes. I have the time, so do it.

There gone. All 9 are missing. There's even a space where they once were. And I never noticed? Gosh darn, I am so pissed off right now.

I can replace them for under $20 used. So be it. But I'm still pissed off that someone took them.
posted by james33 at 4:54 AM on May 27

Oh, this is great news!
posted by Stewriffic at 5:03 AM on May 27

Dear james33: pretend that the person who took them really needed them. It's weird to remember how startling the original series on PBS was- you thought it was the beginning of a whole new world of adult TV. And it was, only, um, not on PBS. I hadn't thought of it or the books in years, but it seems like we still need them.
posted by acrasis at 7:30 AM on May 27

james33, *my* copy of Tales Of The City has also mysteriously "disappeared". I can't remember who I loaned it to because I have enthusiastically talked it up to many a person over the years since reading it the first week I moved to San Francisco. I hope wherever it is, it's somewhere where others can read it.

I've never actually watched any of the film versions of the books - sounds like a good activity for a cloudy Memorial Day holiday.
posted by rogerroger at 7:59 AM on May 27

I remember reading the first few in the series not long after I moved to the Bay Area, and they made me nostalgic for a place I'd never been, as the easygoing city of the books had already disappeared except in odd corners.

I had a similar experience when I moved out here in 1996. To me, the closest literary analog as the successive generation to Mary-Ann-moves-to-San-Francisco was Douglas Coupland's Microserfs. (But even then, the lessons were so different: Have marketable skills, find a way to fuse life and work, and bring the seeds of your community with you because building one on your own is hard.)

Every once in a while, when I've got a meeting in Noe Valley or something, I'll look around as I'm running to or from BART and I'll see these boomers just sitting in cafes, chatting amiably about how they moved in during the Bush I admin or whatever. They wear their San Franciscanness like beat-up moto jacket, casual and cool. I always wonder if Maupin's San Francisco of endlessly charming, easygoing daily life is confined to their cohort.
posted by sobell at 4:07 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

Microserfs also evoked that feeling for me! In that case it was because I had a lot of friends that had moved out in the late eighties and early nineties during the early internet boom, and I always regretted not taking the chance earlier.
posted by tavella at 6:45 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

tavella, I can see that! Even moving out in early 1996, I had the feeling I was almost too late. It was disorienting.

I have to travel to Seattle for work and one thing I've noticed is the accretion of books about a disappeared city. I picked up Greg Prato's Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music when it first came out and the story of Seattle in the 1980s and 1990s is intertwined with the story of the music in that place, and Mark Yarm's Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge followed a few years later. Then Jaimee Garbacik's Ghosts of Seattle Past, which is a vivid collection of disappearing and disappeared spaces, and even Tera Hatfield's Seattleness: A Cultural Atlas has a feel of documenting a place before it disappears.

I am wondering when San Francisco's body of writing will inspire a similar reckoning instead of revisiting the Maupin fairy tale or promoting that "cool gray city of love."
posted by sobell at 9:37 PM on May 27 [1 favorite]

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