New Fellow Travelers clip perfectly captures the dangers of the McCarthy era

Showtime’s historical romance miniseries, Fellow Travelers, is nearly upon us. With a release date slated for the end of the month, Showtime has shared an exclusive clip showcasing just what a nail-biter viewers are in for.

Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by Thomas Mallon, Fellow Travelers dramatizes the realities of being queer in the 1950s McCarthy era. During this period, Senator Joseph McCarthy advanced his political career by scapegoating and purging LGBTQ+ people from government office as suspected communists—a crisis known as the Lavender Scare.

In the upcoming miniseries (per the official synopsis), Matt Bomer plays “handsome, charismatic Hawkins Fuller, who maintains a financially rewarding, behind-the-scenes career in politics.” Although Hawkins “avoids emotional entanglements,” his well-ordered life is shaken when he meets Tim Laughlin, played by Jonathan Bailey. Tim is described as “a young man brimming with idealism and religious faith.”

The first official trailer shows a government official questioning Hawkins (with a lie detector, no less) on his sexuality. In between these scenes, Hawkins navigates a public relationship with childhood friend Lucy Smith (Get Out’s Allison Williams) and a clandestine one with Tim.

The new exclusive clip, shared with Gay Times, chooses a singular moment to illustrate the kinds of pressures the two lovers are under and the paranoia that inevitably follows.

As Hawkins and Tim wake up in bed together, there’s little time to enjoy a postcoital lie-in—they’re already running late for something, and being late together will arouse suspicion. As Tim rushes to get dressed, he asks Hawkins, “When will I see you again?”

“I’m going to look outside and make sure it’s clear,” Hawkins replies.

With the hallway vacant, Tim leaves Hawkins’ apartment—only he forgets his glasses. He returns to Hawkins’ door and the two seem on the verge of a farewell kiss when a neighbor emerges into the hallway. The two quickly scramble to pretend to be strangers.

Beyond the McCarthy era, the miniseries will follow these two characters through pivotal moments of American history. “Over the course of four decades, Hawkins and Tim 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 in themselves.”

Fellow Travelers releases on Showtime and Paramount+ on October 27.

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