Once you feel seen like how Anna Madrigal makes you feel seen, you'll never want to leave 28 Barbary Lane. On Friday, Jun. 7, Netflix releases Tales of the City, a limited series that will surely make your heart sing — and not just for its diverse and LGBTQIA-friendly lineup of characters, including the transgender landlady of the Barbary Lane community, who is played by Olympia Dukakis. And with a wide-ranging slice-of-life story that feels genuinely authentic, it's only natural that fans wonder if Anna Madrigal is a real person. Sadly, the character is a work of fiction, but there is still plenty to get excited about.
Although 28 Barbary Lane is a fictional address with a real-life location in San Francisco's Russian Hill community, Netflix's Tales of the City is based on stories by Armistead Maupin. The author began the series as a newspaper column in 1974, and while the characters may not be real, Mercury News reported that Maupin drew from his own personal experiences.
“I tried to use what I know," Maupin told the publication in 2016. "In the old days, that meant a lot of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. A little less of that these days. But it’s all life, all important to record. Writing is a way of making some sense out of chaos in life.”
Additionally, Maupin revealed that he put a bit of himself into each of his Tales of the City characters.
"I don’t think there’s a single one that I haven’t drawn from some aspect of my own personality," the author said. "Even the unattractive ones … especially the unattractive ones."
Maupin also touched on Anna Madrigal's character and admitted that he wanted to be more like the Barbary Lane matriarch.
"She’s the only character in the Tales series with a little bit more elevated consciousness than I have,” Maupin told Mercury News. “I think she’s what I aspire to be, and that is patient and kind, someone who keeps a rueful eye on life and doesn’t let it get to her.”
For those of you who didn't know, Tales of the City was originally introduced to television viewers in 1994. However, the PBS show only lasted six episodes, and wasn't renewed for a second season. Now, the Tales of the City reboot is coming to Netflix, with Dukakis and Laura Linney reprising their roles as Anna Madrigal and Mary Ann Singleton. The two actresses will star alongside a new cast of actors like Ellen Page, Charlie Barnett, and May Hong, but the heart of the series remains the same.
According to Netflix's synopsis of Tales of the City, the revival will follow Mary Ann as she returns to present-day San Francisco after 20 years in Connecticut. There she finds her daughter and ex-husband, and is "quickly drawn back into the orbit of Anna Madrigal, her chosen family and a new generation of queer young residents living at 28 Barbary Lane."
Unfortunately, the marvelous Anna Madrigal isn't real. But hopefully, the legacy of Maupin's character will live on and Tales of the City will continue to inspire a new generation of LGBTQIA stories.
Tales of the City is now streaming on Netflix.