Based on the novel by Thomas Mallon, Showtimes’ Fellow Travelers is a groundbreaking examination of gay life during the era of McCarthyism, a time fraught with paranoia and persecution, which is powerfully underscored in this engrossing eight-part mini-series.

State Department official Hawkins Fuller (Matt Bomer) and congressional staffer Timothy Laughlin (Jonathan Bailey) find themselves in the belly of the beast, working in 1950’s Washington, D.C., which is in the thrall of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s (Chris Bauer) crusade to rid the country of who he would term “undesirables.” Homosexuals fall into that category and though the lovers are constantly looking over their shoulders and run the risk of losing their jobs as so much more, they can’t curb the passion that consumes them.

Combatting not only prejudice based on sexual orientation but race as well, Marcus Gaines (Jelani Alladin) and Frankie Hines (Noah J. Ricketts) find themselves forced to take action. The former, a political journalist, the latter, a drag queen, lounge singer, become activists in the fight for equality, an act that puts them in jeopardy at every turn.

With four openly gay leads, the series stands by the convictions it espouses. Each bring a passion to their roles that communicates there’s something more at stake here for the quartet of actors. The sincerity of their approach compliments the compelling writing, the six episodes breezing by, the engaging narrative spanning decades, extending into the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s.

Period details are spot on, the recreation of the various eras evoking a sense of place that’s palpable. Strong support is provided by Allison Williams as Fuller’s wife, Lucy Smith, and Will Brill as MacCarthy’s sycophant Roy Cohn.

Though originally broadcast on Showtime, the series is now available to rent or own on all major streaming platforms.



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