Netflix and Showtime have swapped queer shows

Netflix and Showtime have swapped queer shows
Neil Patrick Harris and Andrew Scott Photo: Netflix/Shutterstock

The TV/streaming landscape is wild at the moment. Platforms are axing current shows left and right and offloading others, all while instituting mass layoffs following various mergers. It’s safe to say the “streaming wars” have entered a chaotic new phase in recent months.

Amid all of this, Netflix and Showtime (reportedly soon to be rebranded as “Paramount+ with Showtime”) have negotiated something of a queer prisoner swap.  

On Friday, news broke that Showtime’s highly anticipated series Ripley, starring out actor Andrew Scott (a.k.a. Fleabag’s Hot Priest) would no longer be premiering on the cable network, but would instead debut on Netflix. The same day, it was reported that Showtime had picked up Uncoupled for a second season. The Darren Starr-created comedy starring Neil Patrick Harris had been canceled after one season by Netflix last month.

As The Hollywood Reporter notes, Showtime gave Ripley a series order all the way back in 2019. The show, which is based on queer author Patricia Highsmith’s novels about murderous con man Tom Ripley, has been in development ever since. The first season, which has reportedly finished filming and is now in postproduction, is set to follow the plot of The Talented Mr. Ripley, with Scott playing the closeted gay grifter, British actor Johnny Flynn (know for Emma) playing wealthy playboy Dickie Greenleaf, and Dakota Fanning starring as Dickie’s fiancée Marge.

The novel has been adapted into three previous film versions: 1960’s Purple Noon; 1977’s The American Friend; and 1999’s Oscar-nominated The Talented Mr. Ripley. Unlike the other versions, the 1999 film, which starred Matt Damon, Jude Law, and Gwyneth Paltrow, made the book’s queer subtext much more explicit and has been the most successful Ripley film to date. With out actor Scott in the title role, it’s likely the new series will deal head-on with Ripley’s sexuality.

“I’m just thinking about how I’m going to put my own stamp on it,” Scott said of the series in July 2020. “I’m really excited to just flip it around. We’re going to do eight hours of television, so it’s a whole new breaking down of the character.”

Uncoupled, meanwhile, premiered on Netflix last July. The series follows 40-something high-end real estate agent Michael Lawson (Harris) as he’s thrust back into Manhattan’s gay dating scene after being left by his boyfriend of 17 years (Tuc Watkins). Though the series received a generally favorable reception from audiences, reviews were mixed, with some critics taking issue with its breezy Sex and the City-esque tone and inauthentic portrayal of a gay New Yorker so hopelessly flummoxed by the realities of hook-up culture.

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