London Spy - Not your average ‘gay spy thriller’ (starring Ben Whishaw)
EDIT: I should have noted that the trailer linked is actually for BBC Two and includes several of their new shows all linked. London Spy is just one of them.
If you haven’t heard of BBC’s new series London Spy and love yourself some British crime drama and intrigue, go watch this now.
I actually hate to use the phrase ‘gay spy thriller’ because this show is so much more than that, but that is quite the point I want to prove. Not that we have any gay spy thrillers mind you… oh well…
Note: Spoilers (ish) ahead (although nothing major as the first episode is basically just setting up the premise)
Firstly, is it actually a TV series where the main character (male) has an MI6 boyfriend? Yes! But please don’t just stop there. This kind of setup is almost like a self-indulgent fanfiction, which is why it’s important to point out how not the case this is.
The main character, Danny, is played by Ben Whishaw, who some of you may know as Q from James Bond (and let’s not dive into the interesting fandom universe crossovers of that right now, since BondxQ is also quite the popular pairing). Danny is a normal guy working in a storage warehouse, and meets another guy named Alex. There’s a bit of a slow burn romance to it, regardless of this all happening in the first episode, and all goes well until Alex disappears. Turns out he wasn’t who he said he was (MI6), and now Danny seems to want answers.
I now want to point out how, if you thought it was a gay version of a James Bond, you will be sorely disappointed (or perhaps impressed because the Bond series, while classic and enjoyable, is very backwards, predictable, misogynistic and highly sexualized). There is no gratuitous gay sex (although there is a scene. It’s a normal one). There are no thrilling action scenes (no exploding cars, tumbling buildings). There isn’t even that much dialogue or music (so no snazzy music combined with snarky comments every other line).
No. The dialogue is sometimes awkward and choppy… but so very real and so much more refreshing. These characters are people, not just witty bantering machines churning out line after line of snark (not that I don’t love my dose of snark).
And more importantly, most of the episode didn’t even need dialogue at all. Ben Whishaw’s performance ensnares your attention. You know what he’s thinking and feeling because you can see it.
The acting is the dialogue.
Actually scratch that. The acting is the dialogue AND the soundtrack.
Bottom line: If you want to watch a good performance with intriguing plotline and characters, watch it. If you’re hoping for a gay James Bond thriller… sorry it’s not that. But do go watch it anyways. Let it change your mind. :)
On a side note…moving now into the ‘gay spy thriller’ territory… I really can’t resist the crossover potential of London Spy and James Bond. I’m just waiting for that 100K fic where Q joins MI6 because he originally set out to find out what happened to his MI6 boyfriend that mysteriously disappeared/was murdered/something… only to end up as the quartermaster of one infamous James Bond. :)