If like most of Britain you’ve been amused and faintly confused by the billboards sporting various pictures of phallic foodstuffs on nice pastel backgrounds with no explanation over the last month then you’re not alone. Tonight though, all will be revealed as the Channel 4 shows that the adverts have been in aid of, finally air.
So what is a Cucumber, Banana, Tofu? They’re three separate entitites created by Channel 4 that are linked by their central theme; sex. First up is Cucumber; a serial running on Channel 4 about Henry, a 46-year-old insurance broker who’s been with his partner Lance for longer than they both care to admit. Their sex life is suffering something of a drought (to put it mildly) despite Lance's best efforts. After one totally mad date (there’s Kylie Minogue and a naked man doing dog impressions involved) both of them are forced to start over, for better or for worse.
Up next is Banana, a series of standalone epsiodes exploring young LGBT lives airing after Cucumber but over on E4. The first episode overlaps with Cucumber in terms of the characters involved but expect different stories and characters each week. Epsiode one definitely doens't hold back. Watch our for manic Grindring, premature ejaculation and erm, a chastitiy penis belt, because if a man in a club offers to clamp one on you while he takes the key away to Bristol then obviously you'd agree. Right?
Lastly, comes Tofu; the documentary that has it’s home on 4OD, is made by YouTuber Benjamin Cook (NineBrassMonkeys) and explores the sex lives of everyday people, and by everyday we mean people from ALL walks of life. When was the last time you heard about fantasies of a randy 56 year old woman alongside a couple of 21 year old gay porn stars? In fact, when was the last time you saw a frank and honest discussion of sex on TV that wasn't conducted by lithe 24 year old beautiful people? Oh, a word of warning... watch out for Vladmir, the city trader with a penchant for hookers and a knack for saying stuff that makes your mouth drop open and your insides shrivel up and die.
So why are these shows important? Because, as creator Russell T. Davies (Queer as Folk) explains about Cucumber, every straight drama has been looking at who straight people are for '2000 years' and now, gay drama can start to do the same. ‘It’s about who we are, about what we think, how we react, how we blunder through life, how we succeed, the aspirations we have, stuff that actually hasn’t been explored in drama at all.’ Cucumber is a representation of life in 2015 from the point of gay men, rather than from the point of a straight man who happens to have a gay friend. It's a frank, open, hilarious, diverse and honest portrait that's important to represent on television. As Russell said at the premiere last week if he'd gone out of his way to be diverse, ‘It just looks like 2015 up there to me.’
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This article originally appeared on The Debrief.