Anyone who’s ever tried to write off history as “boring” is going to be eating their words once they see Fellow Travelers, Showtime’s upcoming historical fiction series that reminds us: You can’t spell “annals” without… well, you’ll see…
Based off Thomas Mallon’s 2007 novel of the same name, Fellow Travelers is, at its core, a decades-long romance between two men: Hawkins “Hawk” Fuller (Magic Mike‘s Matte Bomer) and Timothy Laughlin (Bridgerton‘s Jonathan Bailey). But it’s also a fascinating “travelogue,” of sorts, tracking the shifting cultural attitudes around queerness from the Midcentury to the early ’80s.
The men meet in DC at the dawn of McCarthyism, when U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy stoked fears of Soviet Russian influence, attempting to sniff out left-leaning individuals considered to be partial to communist ideals. That movement encompassed the Lavender Scare, too—a time of moral panic around homosexuality.
But just because gay men like Hawk and Tim had to stay buttoned up in public, that doesn’t mean they were holding themselves back behind closed doors.
In fact, according to a new preview piece from EW, it sounds like Fellow Travelers is about to get real and raw when it comes to bedroom politics, giving viewers “some of the most erotic depictions of same-sex sex ever put to screen on a premium television network.”
Speaking with the cast and creatives behind the series, the EW feature gives us a sense of the very specific sexual chemistry between Bomer and Bailey’s characters. “What sets [the series’] sex scenes apart is that they are moving the story forward,” shares Daniel Minahan, who directs the first two episodes. “The way they’re moving the story forward is by the transference of power that happens between [the characters].”
To be a bit more blunt, what Minahan’s trying to say is that it’s pretty obvious from the jump who’s the top and who’s the bottom in this relationship, but their dom/sub dynamic is ever-changing and even drives the narrative of the series.
There are new shows, returning favorites, and way more seasons of ‘Drag Race’ headed your way this fall.
It seems like every other week folks are arguing online whether or not sex scenes are “necessary” in film and television, so we’re already curious to hear what those folks will have to say about Fellow Travelers, where it sounds like sex is the point, in so many ways.
A brand new clip offers a tantalizing glimpse at exactly that. Amidst some rather serious work discussion, Hawk begins playing with Tim’s chest hairs—and even gives him a little nipple tweak. Tim’s trying to get the more connected Hawk to invite him to a social event, and he knows just the trick:
“I’m your boy, right? Hm? And your boy wants to go to the party,” he demands as he gets down on his knees between Hawk’s legs.
“How much does he want to go?,” Hawk asks as his “boy” slides down further and further.
Well, alright then! They weren’t lying about Fellow Travelers getting hot and heavy!
Elsewhere in the EW piece, series creator Roy Nyswaner (who also wrote last year’s Harry Styles-starring gay romance, My Policeman) shares that one of their only rules about depicting sex in the series is that they would never do the same thing twice.
“[The rule] was that we wouldn’t do the same sexual act more than once, or the same combination,” Nyswaner reveals—which sounds like it was harder to follow than they realized. “I remember when we were writing episode 8, my co-writers and I said, ‘What haven’t we done?'”
As if this wasn’t already one of our most anticipated TV shows of the year! Now we have (at least) eight more reasons to tune in.
No one was prepared for these hot shots.
Of course, it’s not just about the sex, although everyone involved seems acutely aware that sex sells—they even admit that last year’s leaked set photos of Bomer and Bailey frolicking shirtless on the beach was “not a bad thing.”
But Nyswaner and his team sound pretty confident they’ve got an “emotional and powerful show” on their hands, one that queer people of all ages will be able to see themselves in.
We’ll find out October 27 when Fellow Travelers premieres on Showtime, with episodes streaming simultaneously on Paramount+.