Set in the 1950s amidst the backdrop of the McCarthy era when Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohen waged war on “subversives and sexual deviants” initiating one of the darkest periods in 20th century American history.
The series confronts viewers head on with the “Lavender Scare,” a witch hunt targeting gay and lesbian government employees who were unjustly labeled “sexual deviants.” As many as 10,000 queer people are estimated to have been fired or bullied out of their jobs because of anti-gay policies, which were spearheaded by McCarthy and his chief counsel Roy Cohn (Will Brill).
Fellow Travelers – based on the book by celebrated author Thomas Mallon – foreshadows an all too familiar narrative that can be traced back to Nazi Germany grounded in fear, suspicion, intimidation and the impact of divisive ideologies to manufacture villains in order to scapegoat issues – all of which the LGBTQ+ community continues to face today.
Hawkins Fuller, played by Matt Bomer, is the heroic war-hero and eligible bachelor living the good life in secret while spending his private life with men. Tim Laughlin, played by Jonathan Bailey, is the midwestern man who supports anti-communist efforts through Hawk’s help. The two end up working together and find themselves in a push-and-pull love affair throughout their relationship.
‘Fellow Travelers’ also stars Jelani Alladin (The Walking Dead World Beyond), Allison Williams (Get Out, Girls) and Noah J. Ricketts (American Gods). Bomer and Nyswaner executive produce with Robbie Rogers (All American, My Policeman) and Dee Johnson. Daniel Minahan (Halston, American Crime Story: Versace) executive produces and also directs the first two episodes.
Bomer and Bailey’s characters begin a romance just as Joseph McCarthy and Roy Cohn declare war on “subversives and sexual deviants,” initiating one of the darkest periods in 20th-century American history. Over the course of four decades, we follow our five main characters – Hawk, Tim, Marcus (Alladin), Lucy (Williams) and Frankie (Ricketts) – as they cross paths through the Vietnam War protests of the 1960s, the drug-fueled disco hedonism of the 1970s and the AIDS crisis of the 1980s while facing obstacles in the world and within themselves.
As the series follows the relationship over the decades, viewers are reminded of the hardships of the HIV/AIDS crisis through the lens of these characters. ‘Fellow Travelers’ depicts and brings forth an important narrative on the queer history that should not be forgotten, and serves as a reminder of what life truly was like to live through a time of struggle.
In a conversation with co-writer Robbie Rogers for Radio Times, he stated the two had ‘electric’ chemistry on set.
“I’ve known Matt for some years now just personally, and obviously I have watched his career. I loved him so much in ‘The Normal Heart’. So we all knew he could play Hawk, and when we sat with him you feel his presence.