Welcome to the Weekend Binge. Every Friday, we’ll suggest a binge-able title designed to keep you from getting too stir crazy. Check back throughout the weekend for even more gloriously queer entertainment.
The Daemonic: His Dark Materials
We here at Queerty love calling attention to films and series that might not get enough recognition for their treatment of queer issues, characters or history…as well as just for being damn good entertainment. This week, we offer up possibly the most underrated show on television: His Dark Materials.
Fans of the series of novels by Philip Pullman or the ill-fated big-screen adaptation The Golden Compass will no doubt know the power and intrigue of the original story. For the uninitiated, the trilogy of novels follows a young girl named Lyra (Daphne Keene of Logan fame). Lyra lives in a universe parallel to our own, one in which souls take the form of spirit animal guides called Daemons that live outside of the body as constant companions. In Lyra’s universe, a religious government called The Magesterium rules over all creation, obsessed with a strange material called Dust which clings to all living adults.
When Lyra’s best friend becomes one of a series of children to mysteriously disappear she embarks on a thrilling adventure alongside the aeronaut Lee Scoresby (Lin-Manuel Miranda) to discover the fate of the kids…and why the Magesterium wants to use children for a deadly experiment. Armed with a magical compass that tells the future, Lyra must outwit the sadistic Mrs. Coulter (Ruth Wilson) and ruthless Lord Asriel (James McAvoy), a pair of sparring adults terrified of Dust and obsessed with young Lyra. Meanwhile, back in our universe, a put-upon boy named Will (Amir Wilson) searches for his long-lost father (Andrew Scott), and discovers a hole in space-time that leads connects Lyra’s world with our own.
That’s the tip of the iceberg folks. As a story, His Dark Materials deserves mention alongside classics such as Dune, Harry Poter, Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia as one of the all-time great sci-fi/fantasy series. Moreover, the series includes a hearty dose of queer characters, particularly in the form of a couple of gay angels (yes, really) that show up mid-way through the story. The stories also offer a very strong critique of mixing religion with government, authoritarianism, and sexism & homophobia within the Catholic church. The HBO adaptation features a wonderful cast, breathtaking special effects and–unlike the big-screen adaptation–doesn’t hold back on the violence or the criticism of religion. With Season 2 about to premiere in the US this week, now is the perfect time to get caught up and jump on the bandwagon of one of the most addictive series in recent memory.
Come for the adventure. Stay for the gay angels.
Streams on HBO Max.