Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Fellow Travelers: Sex and Politics

Matt Bomer and Jonathan Bailey in Fellow Travelers. (Photo: Ben Mark Holzberg)

Matt Bomer has a personal triumph in the role of Hawk Fuller, a State Department official whose concealment of his gay identity turns into a devastating coup of deception in the Showtime limited series Fellow Travelers. Created by Ron Nyswaner, who wrote two of the eight episodes and the stories for two others and adapted from Thomas Mallon’s 2008 novel, it follows Hawk’s erratic love affair with Tim Laughlin (Bridgerton’s Jonathan Bailey), beginning in 1953. Tim arrives in D.C. straight out of college, still bound to his Catholic upbringing and his hero worship of Joe McCarthy. Hawk is cynical about both God and Tail-Gunner Joe, but he helps Tim land a job in the senator’s office while he pursues this somewhat younger man. Their complicated relationship, which they drop in and out of over the years, is intercut with its inevitable finale, when Tim, now a gay activist, is in San Francisco in the mid-eighties dying of AIDS.