I don’t watch Logo, the nominally LGBT cable network, often. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the art of drag on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” or enjoy endless reruns of “Will and Grace” and “Golden Girls.” But, that’s a discussion for another day.
While watching an episode my partner recorded of one of the aforementioned sitcoms, I ran across a promo for two new series on the network, “Cucumber” and “Banana.” Thank God for On Demand because the short, 8-episode series had already concluded their runs.
“Cucumber” and “Banana” are the British companion series from Russell T. Davies, creator of “Queer as Folk,” and I can’t believe I didn’t know about them. I don’t know why Logo doesn’t have the arts & entertainment editor of SFGN on their press list to promote them, but again, that’s a discussion for another day.
The inspiration for the titles came from a research study Davies discovered that came up with four descriptions for the relative hardness of a male erection: tofu, banana without the peel, banana with the peel and cucumber. Needless to say, the supermarket will serve as both a location and a metaphor throughout both interwoven series.
“Cucumber” explores the lives of Henry Best, a 40-something insurance company manager (Vincent Franklin), and his “long-suffering” boyfriend of nine years, Lance Sullivan (Cyril Nri). Like so many couples, they are comfortable, but both yearn for different things—Henry, the unattainable affection of any young twink, and Lance, a physical relationship with Henry.
After a threesome gone wrong, Henry walks out and takes up with two 20 year olds living in a tenement loft in downtown Manchester. Freddie (Freddie Fox) is the boy of Henry’s dreams, smooth and good looking, confident and able to land any trick he desires. Dean (Fisayo Akinade) is a likeable young black man who is happy to join in on Freddie’s bedroom escapades, but also manages to keep busy in his own right.
“Banana” offers viewers 25-minute stories told through the eyes of Freddie, Dean and their friends. There’s Scotty (Letitia Wright), a young lesbian who becomes infatuated with a married woman she encountered at the market; Josh (Luke Newberry), an 18-year-old student who tricks with Freddie and then rushes to tell his best friend she’s too young to get married; and Aiden, a handsome, muscular hunk who must choose between physical beauty and character.
In one of the most powerful episodes, the show touches on transgender issues in the story of Helen, a trans woman whose boyfriend refuses to accept their relationship is over and terrorizes her through cyber-bullying and stalking.
Many gay men in South Florida will quickly relate to Henry and Lance and the joys and pitfalls of their relationship, but it’s the insights into the sexual and gender fluidity of the contemporary young people in “Banana” that is most illuminating. No, they didn’t invent sex—every generation thinks they did—but the game is definitely changing. Both series are witty and uplifting, but can also be dark and disturbing. But, hey, that’s life.
“Cucumber” and “Banana” are available on Logo On Demand through June 30. Check with your cable provider.