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Is the Upcoming Showtime Series ‘Fellow Travelers’ Based on a Book?

Showtime’s upcoming series Fellow Travelers featuring White Collar star Matt Bomer and Bridgerton alumn Jonathan Baily is a decade-spanning saga that follows the seductive, dangerous, and volatile relationship between political staffers Hawkins Fuller (Bomer) and Tim Laughlin (Bailey). 

The two fall in love at the peak of the Fifties Lavender Scare: an ethical panic about homosexual activity within the United States government that led to the dismissal of several individuals from government positions within the mid-Twentieth century. It also contributed to and paralleled the anti-communist campaign. Tied up within the Age of McCarthyism, the Fifties was one among political history’s most repressive and internal investigation-heavy periods, resulting in an awesome and ceaseless sense of tension. 

The trailer shows Bomer and Bailey at various ages — continuing an affair that they’ll’t resist, despite the undeniable fact that it threatens their very livelihoods. In the trailer, Bomer’s charismatic and flirtatious Hawkins tells Laughlin that they “lie about who [they] sleep with,” upon which Laughlin states, “not who we sleep with. It’s who we love.” Hawkins is Laughlin’s “great, consuming love.” As the trailer interweaves the duo running on the beach with the 2 dodging suspicions, it becomes clear that this miniseries shall be a political drama meets romantic escapade… and it looks quite juicy. 

As for the narrative at play, the show relies on the novel of the identical name by Thomas Mallon, which was originally published in 2007. 

What will we know in regards to the ‘Fellow Travelers’ book and writer?

The novel Fellow Travelers highlights the bare-knuckled ideology that defined Fifties McCarthyism. With larger-than-life characters like Richard Nixon and Joe McCarthy on the forefront, it was a time characterised by a pervasive atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and political repression. Everyone was a suspect and secret dossiers got passed around like cigarettes.

The novel taps into this anxiety-ridden period via the love story between two men in politics. Laughlin is a recent Fordham graduate and a devout Catholic ready to affix the crusade against communism. However, his world is without end modified when he meets the handsome State Department Official, Hawkins Fuller. The two begin a love affair yet struggle to administer their double lives as McCarthy begins his hunt for “sexual subversives” in the federal government. 

Author Thomas Mallon has been celebrated for his fiction works, including Henry and Clara, Two Moons, Bandbox, Dewey Defeats Truman, Aurora 7, and more. He is evidently no stranger to the historical fiction landscape, often weaving personal dramas into the pages of history. He also penned the nonfiction novel Mrs. Paine’s Garage and the Murder of John F. Kennedy.

Unnerving, steamy, intense, romantic, anxiety-catalyzing, reflective, and historically-contemplative, Fellow Travelers is price a read before the Showtime series from decorated producer/author Ron Nyswaner (Philadelphia, The Painted Veil, Homeland, Ray Donovan) premieres on October 29, 2023. 

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