Jul 23, 2016

Absolutely Fabulous

Absolutely Fabulous (1992-1995, and many specials afterwards) was Thelma and Louise on steroids.  And lots of stoli.  It starred Jennifer Saunders as "Eddy" Edina Monsoon, a self-centered, celebrity-obsessed, fad-chasing glamorista who wasn't nearly as hip, chic, or well-connected as she thought she was ("Names, darling!  I need names!").

And Joanna Lumley as her best friend Patsy, a boozing, promiscuous fashion photographer or editor ("He wanted to show me his..er...portfolio").
Reigning the two in were Edina's daughter Saffron, or Saffy (Julia Sawalha, left), a level-headed college student with a dark side of her own, and her mother (June Whitfield), dotty and conniving at the same time.  Patsy and Saffy were each jealous of the other's place in Edina's life, and sniped at each other constantly.

Episodes could go off the deep end, as when Patsy sold Saffron into slavery in Morocco or Edina adopted a child to make Saffron jealous, but mostly they involved relationship issues: Eddy's 40th birthday; a visit by Patsy's older, crueller sister Jackie; Patsy takes a job in New York, thus threatening to break up the duo.

In spite of the occasional mention of heterosexual exploits, Patsy and Edina were most obviously life partners.  They may exploit others, but they never waivered in their commitment to each other.

There were also many quirky supporting characters, such as the butch-femme straight couple, Bo (Mo Gaffney) and Marshall (Christopher Ryan)

But it was the over-the-top camp that made Ab Fab a gay classic.  On Halloween in 1993, half of the drag queens in West Hollywood were dressed as Patsy.

Everyone was casually bisexual.  Patsy revealed that she had undergone a sex-change operation, but "it fell off."

And there were ample gay men and lesbians among the duo's friends and clients.   In the 2003 special "Gay," we discover that Eddy's son Serge (Josh Hamilton, left) ran away to New York because Eddy couldn't accept him as gay-and-boring; he wasn't flamboyant enough to be a chic shopping accessory.

Not a lot of beefcake in this female-oriented show -- just an occasional male model or shirtless boyfriend.  But who cares? Patsy and Edina were absolutely fabulous all by themselves.