There are many milestones in the life of LGBT people: realizing we’re not necessarily attracted to the opposite sex (or at least not only attracted to the opposite sex); our first (and most likely awkward) sexual experience; all the coming out bits. And – if you’re like me and my friends – the first time we saw “Absolutely Fabulous.”
Most of the time it’s an older, wiser queer friend that shares Patsy and Edina with us. I was introduced to the tragically hip ladies by a very unlikely source: a very awkward friend I met that terrible year I was sent to a very conservative, very Christian middle school. He came over for the weekend.
“Have you seen this,” he asked, and turned on – I believe it was – Comedy Central before they had much in the way of original programming. “These ladies are nuts!”
“What are we watching?” I asked, spellbound and gasping for breath. These ladies drank impossible amounts of champagne. They wore incredibly luxe clothes. They had a driver. For them, money was clearly no object. One minute they were in London; next minute they sauntered tipsily past the famed Russian Tea Room.
My friend and I both laughed uncontrollably as Patsy and Eddie told a policeman to “come by” when they were being signaled to pull over for driving drunk – and then again in Morocco, when they sold Eddie’s daughter into servitude.
When we turned off the light – me on my bed, him on the floor – we talked about the show. As I lay there, with the plastic-glow-in-the-dark-starry-ceiling of my youth blinking down at me, I hadn’t quite grasped that my friend and I had been laughing for profoundly different reasons. As a young born-again Christian the sheer lack of morality amused him. He found them alien, morally reprehensible, decadent. Not me. I hoped they existed and that someday I’d find them.
When I found out that each treasured episode of the series had ended up on Netflix, I took to Twitter to exclaim how great it was that a whole new generation would enjoy the show whenever they wanted and that maybe it would help some young, closeted kid find their own kind of fabulous! I tagged Jennifer Saunders (Eddie), Joanna Lumley (Patsy), and Mo Gaffney, who’d played Edwina’s ex-husband’s wife in various wacky incarnations.
Much to my surprise Mo Gaffney liked and retweeted my praise. “Cheers, thanks a lot sweetie.”
This past November marked 25 years since those fabulous ladies burst onto the comedy scene. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that friend I first enjoyed them with, as well. I am sure his life is much different than mine. His revolves around family and church; mine – not so much. But if I ever bump into him, I know that the first thing I’ll ask is: “Remember AbFab?”
Last modified: October 5, 2018