With Cucumber/Banana/Tofu's eight-part run now history, both here in the UK and in America, it's now possible to distinguish the reality from the hype; but it's a mixed picture.
Lance and Henry.
For those who have been recently absent from Planet Earth, the two interwoven drama series explore the contemporary gay world through the lives of two disparate generations. The hour-long Cucumber probes the thrills, misadventures and mid-life crises of Henry Best and his long-suffering boyfriend of nine years, Lance Sullivan.
Adam, Henry's nephew, vlogger and friend.
The half-hour Banana follows the individual lives of younger characters peripheral to Henry’s world through stories of modern love – the romantic, the desperate, the hopeful, the lonely, the vulnerable, and the lucky. The setting is urban Manchester, England. ‘Tofu,’ the third element, is a factual series about sex, based online.
It's a return to a gay theme for writer, Russell T. Davies after his ground-breaking "Queer as Folk", made at a time when campaigners were fighting to reduce the age of gay sexual consent from 18 to 16, in the midst of the AIDS crisis. Davies’ latest shows are, however, screening in a radically different era when two men or two women can legally marry each other.
The most interesting feature is the tonal differences between the hardcore Cucumber and the softer Banana.
Dean and Henry
Where almost every scene in Cucumber involves someone trying or failing to have sex, graphically illustrated and with no linguistic inhibitions, Banana offers a contrasting emotion-laden path to a generally uplifting conclusion.
Freddie and Henry
So Cucumber revolves around Henry's sexual dysfunctions and his obsession with young flatmate, Freddie, charmingly played by pin-up Freddie Fox, a key factor in the ratings to date.
Banana, in contrast, features rites of passage tales, a young lesbian working through her obsession with a mature married woman, or a transsexual Helen, once Ken, coping with a jealous ex who resorts to the social networks to embarrass her.
Helen and her Dad
So it's a case of the physical and sexual Cucumber versus the psychological and emotional Banana. Both have their merits, a shared authenticity, pacy plotting and competent acting. As for which will linger longest in the memory, maybe the fuller flavour of Banana will scoop the awards it surely deserves. Apart from its length and rigidity, there's maybe just not so much reward from a Cucumber!
Good luck, Henry!
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