Tales of the City: What are our Expectations?

Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis as Mary Ann Singleton and Anna Madrigal in the Netflix original series ‘Tales of the City.’ Image Credit: IMDb.com
Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis as Mary Ann Singleton and Anna Madrigal in the Netflix original series ‘Tales of the City.’ Image Credit: IMDb.com

Did you see Netflix revived Tales of the City? Based on the Armistead Maupin written novel of the same title, Tales of the City is simply fabulous. The series, consisting of ten episodes, became available to Netflix subscribers Friday, 7 June 2019.

To accommodate how the world has changed since the last time we saw Tales of the City on television screens, even though the Netflix original series is about the same San Francisco LGBTQ+ community as previously seen, there are new characters which address such changes.

Tales of the City Promotional Poster. Image Credit: IMDb.com
Tales of the City promotional Poster. Image Credit: IMDb.com

Who is in Tales of the City?

Even though both Laura Linney and Olympia Dukakis have reprised their respective roles as Mary Ann Singleton and Anna Madrigal from previous televised Tales of the City productions, many of the characters also seen in earlier shows are now performed by new cast members.

Further to Linney and Dukakis, the Netflix series also stars Ellen Page, Paul Gross, Murray Bartlett, Charlie Barnett, Garcia and May Hong as Shawna Hawkins, Brian Hawkins, Michael “Mouse” Tolliver, Ben Marshall, Jake Rodriguez and Margot Park, respectively.

What is Tales of the City about?

The revival revolves around Mary Ann Singleton. It’s Anna Madrigal 90th birthday. Mary Ann has returned home to San Francisco after decades of being a way to celebrate Anna’s birthday. In toe is Not everyone is thrilled to see Mary Ann return home and that includes her ex-husband Brian Hawkins and her estranged adopted daughter, Shawna.

Twenty years earlier, Mary Ann left San Francisco to pursue her career. Even though she apparently now has a picture-perfect Connecticut life, Mary Ann is finding life less than perfect. After returning home, it does not take long for Mary Ann to become reacquainted with Anna and the residents of 28 Barbary Lane.

Is there a Trailer for Tales of the City?

The Source Material

The source material for the Netflix production is exceptional. Beginning with the 1978 published Tales of the City, Maupin’s series consists of nine instalments. Currently, the last book in the series is The Days of Anna Madrigal. The book hit bookstore shelves in 2014.


Tales of the City originally hit television screens in the British Isles and these United States on Tuesday, 28 Sept. 1993 and Monday, 10 Jan. 1994, respectively. Despite the six-part mini-series being a phenomenal success, we did not see Maupin’s characters return to television screens until 1998. In 1998, the mini-series More Tales of the City saw the return of our favourite San Francisco residents. Three years later, in 2001, Further Tales of the City was the third mini-series. The second and third productions featured six and three episodes, respectively. Despite the number of episodes being so few, 15 in total, the quality of the productions remains extraordinary.

People like me were drawn to these productions because we saw something in the characters which we identify with on a personal level. Maupin’s characters reflect reality. Consequently, I found these productions captivating. I wanted the best outcomes for these characters because they felt every bit as real as my neighbours. A consequence of watching these shows was becoming acquainted with literature outside my typical reading comfort zone.

When it came to reading fiction, my tastes were pretty average. The works in my personal library were by such authors as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, Charlotte Brontë, Michael Bond, JRR Tolkien, CS Lewis and Beatrix Potter. Adaptations of Tales of the City helped me broaden my literature intake.

Not an Average BBC Production

Image Credit: Amazon.com

Further to the mini-series television adaptations of Maupin’s work, there are also exceedingly good radio dramatisations one should seriously consider buying.

Beginning in 2013 with a radio adaptation of Tales of the City, the UK’s BBC Radio 4 has adapted all nine of the author’s books. The last adaptation, The Days of Anna Madrigal, hit BBC Radio 4 in July 2017.