Twenty-six years ago, Armistead Maupin’s Tales Of The City PBS mini-series was a groundbreaking look at gay and straight relationships in San Francisco in the 1970s. It was followed by two more series (More Tales Of The City and Further Tales Of The City), and five more books, all centered around 28 Barbary Lane and its beloved landlady Anna Madrigal, one of the first transgender main characters in American pop culture. At the end of that final volume, Sure Of You, main character Mary Ann departs San Fran to host her own talk show in New York, leaving behind her husband Brian and daughter Shawna.
Many years have passed (and Maupin has penned a few Barbary-related novels in the meantime, like Michael Tolliver Lives and Mary Ann In Autumn, bringing the full Barbary set total to nine), and now Tales returns to the small screen to the delight of its fervent following. It appears that in this new Netflix series, a grown-up Shawna (Ellen Page) tries to connect with Mary Ann (Laura Linney) when she returns to San Francisco for a visit. Also on board are familiar characters like Mary Ann’s old housemate Michael “Mouse” Tolliver (now played by Murray Bartlett), ex Brian (a now white-haired Paul Gross), and friend DeDe (Barbara Garrick), alongside the next generation of Barbary residents, with Mrs. Madrigal (Olympia Dukakis) still the sun they all revolve around.
The original Tales was inclusive during a time when few other series were; even so many years later, it’s hard not to get choked up seeing this iconic homestead again. The full 10-episode series drops on Netflix on June 7.