Russell T. Davies Hub




What To Watch This Week On TV: Waters On 'Drag Race' and A Big Ep of 'Thrones'

Mark_and_Derek

Check out our weekly guide to make sure you're catching the big premieres, crucial episodes and the stuff you won't admit you watch when no one's looking.

— Mark & Derek’s Excellent Flip, starring adorable Dancing With the Stars alums Derek Hough and Mark Ballas, doesn’t mean what you might think it does. (Minds out of the gutter, people.) Instead, the ballroom besties team up to shimmy and shake their way through a little home renovation. Catch the premieres of their new reality series Tuesday at 11 p.m. Eastern on HGTV

RuPaul gets some Female Trouble, HBO shows the darker side of Rowling and more TV this week, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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Towleroad Interview: Russell T Davies on ‘Cucumber,’ ‘Banana’ and Gay Storytelling

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Let's cut to the chase: You should definitely be watching Cucumber and Banana, the two new series airing on Logo following RuPaul's Drag Race. The pair of intertwined shows are must-see TV not only because they both bring a glut of diverse LGBT characters to television, but also because they feature some of the richest, most rewarding storytelling you'll find on TV -- gay, straight or otherwise.

DaviesCucumber focuses on a middle-aged gay man in Manchester, while Banana is an anthology that showcases a variety of different stories featuring LGBT youth.  Characters cross over from each show into the other and plots overlap, but it's possible to watch just one series without the other and still keep up.

Not that you'd want to miss out on either series, because they are both brilliant. Even as someone who grew to love Looking, it's hard not to compare these two new shows about the lives of gay men with the recently canceled HBO dramedy. Although the series was not created as some sort of response to all the backlash Looking received, it is pretty remarkable how deftly Cucumber and Banana avoid many of the same pitfalls. First off, both new series feature a diverse cast of varying ages, gender identities, races, and sexualities. The two-show structure (and Banana's anthology format) helps, as it allows more narrative space to explore an array of characters while ensuring the relationships all feel meaningful and true.

The other big complaint that plagued Looking's two beautiful, but understated seasons was that they were boring. That's definitely not the case here. Both Cucumber and Banana are wildly entertaining and inventive, subjecting their characters to emotional highs and lows that range from the strikingly relatable to the hilariously absurd. These are gay characters, but their sexual identities are the least interesting things about them. That's not to say they're straight-washed -- these shows are both still wonderfully and wickedly infused with queer culture and sensibilities -- but it's the unexpected extremes to which Cucumber and Banana go that will stay with you after the credits roll. (Episode two of Banana is particularly powerful.)

The most stunning thing is how effortless it all seems. That's likely thanks to the brilliant Russell T Davies (above, right), the veteran TV writer behind Cucumber and Banana, as well as the groundbreaking series Queer As Folk and the popular reboot of Doctor Who.

We had the chance to speak with Davies about his new shows and the state of gay representation on TV. See what he had to say, AFTER THE JUMP ...

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A Smarter Take On Sex Could Have Saved 'Looking'

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It’s been about 10 years since the (American) Queer as Folk, The L Word, and Noah’s Arc all went off the air. Looking, for many people, promised to be a return to that world of prestige gay drama(dy) where queer characters weren’t just tertiary window dressing, they were people

Then Looking aired, and it was exactly HBO had said it would be: A show about a group of fairly regular (if upper middle-class) people living their lives in San Francisco beneath the blue haze of some fabulous color correction. The sets were gorgeous, the men were moustachioed, and everything was lit wonderfully. Looking at Looking proved to be an easy enough task. Watching Looking, on the other hand, quickly bored the hell out of a lot of people.

The thing about Looking that we tend to pick up when we describe it as “listless” or “boring” is that it’s primarily a show about being an “authentic” gay person. Though we tend laud things described as “authentic” we often forget that actual authenticity runs the risk of coming with a sizable chunk of banality. Being gay, much like being straight, or bi, or cis, or queer, is an inherently mundane experience. 

Occasionally we may have affairs with our bosses or spend a weekend at Russian River, but generally speaking being gay is a rather uneventful. Looking captured that essence perfectly, but it didn’t make for very compelling television.

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When people talk about what made Queer As Folk a hit series, they almost immediately bring up sex, and rightfully so. Where Looking was a languid daydream about chicken windows and WASPS, Queer As Folk was a manic circuit party fueled by camp, coke, and dizzying crash-zooms. 

Beneath the show’s debaucherous veneer, though, was a genuine effort to normalize depictions of authentic gay sex. The club Babylon served as a social focal point around which queer sex in all of its forms could be explored and unpacked for what they were: good, bad, pleasurable, scary, and sometimes dangerous. As perilous a storytelling device as “authenticity” can be, sex scenes like Queer as Folk’s were something new and provocative for American television. They proved that authenticity, when handled appropriately, could be both familiar and provocative enough to capture an audience.

Looking was not without its fair share of scenes, but it never quite figured out how to use queer sex as the powerful storytelling tool that it can be. As is often the case with shows about gay men, Looking decided to stick with milquetoast sex scenes that acknowledged the fact that gay men lust for one another, but did little to explore the concept. 

Sure, Patrick went cruising and had sex in the woods, but to what end?  How had he heard about it? Had he been before or was it just a fluke? Stigmatized though they may be, cruising areas and the culture that’s evolved around them are a fascinating and integral part of where today’s gay community comes from. Looking explored none of that. 

There are few things that nearly every gay man has in common with his brethren other than sex. While we rightfully bristle at being reduced down to our sexual desires, it would be odd to ignore that sexual physicality--in whatever form it may take--is something that nearly all of us have experience with an can relate to. For a show that wanted to be a glimpse into the life of we, the Gays, Looking didn’t thoroughly engage with the current state of sex within the gay male population.

Continued AFTER THE JUMP...

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Sneak Peek of UK Gay Dramas 'Cucumber' and 'Banana' To Air Following Premiere of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - VIDEO

Cucumber

Stateside fans of Russel T Davies who've been itching to see his new interconnected UK gay dramas Cucumber and Banana are set to get a a surprise sneak peak following the season premiere of RuPaul's Drag Race this Monday on Logo.

Via press release:

The two interwoven drama series will explore 21st century gay life in all its powerful, witty, dark and uplifting guises through the lens of two disparate generations. The hour-long Cucumber will explore the lives and misadventures of Henry Best (Vincent Franklin) and his long-suffering boyfriend of nine years, Lance Sullivan (Cyril Nri). The half-hour Banana will follow the individual lives of younger characters orbiting around Henry’s world, telling stories of modern love – the romantic, the obsessed, the hopeful, the lonely, the lost, and the lucky – in an urban Manchester, England setting. 

Watch a brand new Banana clip of the show's heartbreaking opening scene, AFTER THE JUMP...

The first episodes of Cucumber and Banana will air after RuPaul's Drag Race next Monday, March 2 at 10pm ET/PT. The two shows will then return for their official season premieres on April 13. 

Continue reading "Sneak Peek of UK Gay Dramas 'Cucumber' and 'Banana' To Air Following Premiere of 'RuPaul's Drag Race' - VIDEO " »


'Queer As Folk' and 'Cucumber' Creator Russell T Davies Wants More Full Frontal Male Nudity on Television: VIDEO

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Russell T Davies, the man behind Queer as Folk, the 2005 revivial of Doctor Who and the new UK gay drama Cucumber, talks in a new interview with The Telegraph about the appaling lack of male nudity on television today:

Davies“There is not enough male frontal nudity on TV,” he says. “You’re far more likely to see a naked woman than a naked man. It’s only [seen as] rude because the rest of television is rather tame – it doesn’t actually talk about sex and our bodies and how we feel about them. I’m not out to shock.”

Davies also discussed his desire to bring more diverse gay realities to the screen, which he is helping accomplish with Cucumber's main star Henry (played by Vincent Franklin, pictured below) who has a fear of anal sex.

Cucumber2“It’s one of the great unspoken truths about gay life which is completely true,” explains the 51-year-old Davies. “Gay culture is seen to be all about anal sex, yet an awful lot of men have a fear of it and there is a silence about it. It’s the one thing I can’t wait for transmission for, to see if people stand up and say, 'That’s me.'"

Check out the full interview here in which Davies also dives into how he would like to see homosexuality addressed in action films and children's entertainment.  

Cucumber airs tonight on the UK's Channel 4. Check out a trailer for the show, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'Queer As Folk' and 'Cucumber' Creator Russell T Davies Wants More Full Frontal Male Nudity on Television: VIDEO" »


'Cucumber' Star Freddie Fox Won't Say If He's Gay or Straight: 'Some Time in My Life I Might Fall in Love with a Man'

Cucumber

Actor Freddie Fox, the star of Russell T. Davies' upcoming gay drama Cucumber, was reluctant to define his sexuality in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, saying "I’ve had girlfriends, but I wouldn’t wish to say ’I am this or I am that’, because at some time in my life I might fall in love with a man."

Freddie  fox“I hope that I am the type of person who would fall in love with another person, as opposed to a sex. Most of my life to date has been as a straight man, but who knows what will happen next?

“It sounds evasive, but I don’t think you can necessarily say you’re one thing or another until you’re 100 years old and you’ve done it all.”

Fox, 25, who said he has played a host of character on screen for which “sexuality is the watchword”, added there was still a stigma about the concept of bisexuality.

“A lot of people will hear that and think it means, ’Well, he’s gay and just excusing it’, or ’He’s been with his girlfriend for a really long time and just wants to change things’,” he said.

“It’s often seen as an excuse that you’re going through a phase of one thing or another. Whereas in fact I would strongly suggest that’s probably not the case for a lot of people.

“Appreciation of both sexes is actually not new; it’s incredibly old it’s Roman, it’s Greek, and it is something people can do throughout an entire lifetime, having hugely meaningful relationships, no matter what sex they are.”

Cucumber, which premieres on UK's Channel 4 this Thursday, looks at gay life across different generations and stars Vincent Franklin as a 46-year old man going through a relationship break-up and Fox as the young object of his desires.

Check out a new trailer for Cucumber, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'Cucumber' Star Freddie Fox Won't Say If He's Gay or Straight: 'Some Time in My Life I Might Fall in Love with a Man' " »


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