Saturday, 21 March 2015

Cucumber Banana Tofu

Well, it's been a bit of a bumpy month in terms of posting, hasn't it dear readers? Let's not revisit the time where I said I was going to be committed to posting regularly and to a higher quality of writing, and instead, let us mark this as the beginning of a new leaf.
Today, I shall be discussing a series (or, well, three, I guess?) which I have recently finished watching: Cucumber, Banana, Tofu.

I could try and say that this poster isn't what it looks like, but then I'd be lying.
Right, I'm going to briefly explain what all of this is about and then go into more detail for each segment for the review-y part of this post, cause isn't that what I'm meant to do? Review?
Cucumber is a 45 minute long episode following the same characters (primarily Henry and Lance, but I'll get to that in a minute). Banana is a series of 20 minute self contained episodes which focus on different characters within the LGBT+ community which have usually appeared within the previous episode of Cucumber. There is overlap between the two shows, so watching them in succession is important, but not crucial I'd say. Finally, Tofu is a 10 minute documentary series featuring the cast and crew of Cucumber and Banana, as well as other guests, to talk about sex. 
Right, have we got that?

The aforementioned Henry (left) and Lance (right).
Like I say, Cucumber focuses on the life of long term partners Henry and Lance, featured in the picture above. It is very much about the middle aged, middle class gay. Having been together for nine years when the audience is introduced to them, you just know something is going to go wrong. And it does. Because what's interesting about a happy couple going about their happy couple ways? Exactly. So when things do go awry (and in quite a spectacular way), the couple see themselves no longer together and having to navigate the world by themselves for the first time in nine years. Henry finds himself somehow living (or squatting, we're never quite sure), in an abandoned loft of sorts with two young men from his work, Dean and Freddie, however their stories are more prominent in Banana, as that's where the two shows differentiate. Cucumber (like I say) is the middle age, middle class gay, and Banana is the young LGBT+ community, using Grindr and Tinder and Facebook, all on their iPads and smartphones, knowing at any given point where the closest shag is available. Lance remains the voice of reason (mostly-ish), who stays in their house and tries to get Henry to see how much of a bloody arse he is being.

We watch as Henry and Lance's relationship changes and evolves, stretches and strains. We see the power balance tip, and the two scramble for control in a relationship quickly spiralling out of hand. The characters are wonderfully human as well. Henry and Lance are by no means perfect people. They are both inherently flawed in their own individual way, and you will find yourself identifying with at least one of the characters (if not a little bit in all of them). This can sometimes be a touch worrying, when you can see yourself in the awful character before you, doing and saying horrible things and yet you know you to would do that. Or have already done something like that, I don't know your story.

The women in the yellow and brown jackets half dancing, half hugging are my faves. Their
episode was great.
I've already talked about how Banana manages to peel (ha! gettit?) away from Cucumber, but another obvious way that I've touched upon is how diverse the characters are. Cucumber is about older gay men. And that's fine, the show follows these specific character throughout its run, so it makes sense that as far as LGBT+ goes, it's only really the G (and a little bit of the B) is explored. Which is why I'm happy Banana uses it's time to really explore the community. We are also given episodes dedicated to Dean and Freddie, Henry's new found flatmates, which gives them a well needed back story and development. And although some episodes do revolve entirely around romantic relationships, it's not what the whole show is about.

One explores the way friendships evolve after highschool, one explores the way OCD can impact a persons life, one explores how people deal when faced with horrifying news and how they want to help. I know that last one was a bit weirdly worded but I don't want to ruin the episode, so in the name of not divulging spoilers, do forgive me. But yes, for the most part, being gay, lesbian, trans etc. just so happens to be part of the character and not their entire personality, which is refreshing. As is the complete lack of coming out stories. 

Your American accents are so jarring within this series.
There's not really much to say on Tofu. Soz. Each episode deals with a certain theme which was present in either Cucumber or Banana previously, such as dating apps and first time having sex and (despite what I just said about coming out stories) coming out. Everyone is very frank about what they are talking about, no-one really holds back, which is fun for someone as nosey as me. Another fun thing in Tofu is that usually in an episode, little dramatised stories are interspersed throughout.

All in all, I think the whole series works exceptionally well, stand alone and as a complete package. Now that all the episodes have been released, it's time to binge watch them all on 4oD. And although watching it in succession (Cucumber > Banana > Tofu) isn't perhaps absolutely life and death important, I'd highly recommend doing so.

Until next week, dear readers! 

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