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HBO's Years and Years Is the Great Gay Epic of Our Time

HBO's 'Years and Years' Is the Great Gay Epic of Our Time

HBO's 'Years and Years' Is the Great Gay Epic of Our Time

The tale of Daniel and Viktor needs to be seen by everyone with a screen.

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What lengths would you go to to be with the love of your life? 

HBO's Years and Years answers that question on the scale of a modern-day Greek Tragedy. Created by Russell T. Davies (Queer As Folk, Cucumber) and originally aired on BBC last May, the mini-series imagines what would happen if some of the very real political and economic threats looming over the world actually happened

Spoilers ahead...

Taking place over approximately a decade, Years and Years centers the Lyons family as they deal with Trump bombing a Chinese island, the banks collapsing, Roe vs Wade getting overturned, and border restrictions getting tighter and tighter.

Just before the bombing in 2019, we meet Daniel Lyons (Russel Tovey), a housing officer in the UK's sanctuary cities. He seems to lead a monotonous life with his flat-earth truther husband but he clearly years for more - and he finds that in Viktor, a Ukranian refugee in his camp. Though he wouldn't dare cheat on his husband, Daniel and Viktor begin to share stories about their upbringings and sparks fly between them. When Trump launches that bombs, Daniel realizes what's truly important to him and he promptly dumps his husband and races to Viktor's side, where they make love while the world is seemingly falling down around them. 

You might not imagine it to, but their lives do go on. Daniel and Viktor fall madly in love while the UK, as well as countries all around Europe, enact zero-tolerance immigration policies. Viktor is eventually deported back to Ukraine, where LGBTQ citizens face very real attacks from extremists right now, and the couple begins plotting on how to spend their lives together. 

Viktor is constantly on edge in Ukraine and one day when Daniel calls, an officer answers his facetime call. Viktor was chased out of his home by authorities and eventually finds himself in Spain. He's constantly at risk of getting deported back to the Ukraine where he will almost surely be killed. 

In episode four, Daniel desperately plots with his family to bring home to Manchester illegally and we first get a taste of his hubris. "There must be a way," he tells his radical activist of a sister. "We're not stupid, we're not poor, we're not lacking. I'm sorry, but we're clever. We can think of something, surely."

Daniel enters Spain and his Plan A is to smuggle Viktor out under a bus. When agents are searching vehicles at the UK border, the two are forced to flee. Plan B: make Viktor a fake passport. They find a woman who can do the service and Daniel gives her the money and his own passport to copy. She runs off with both, and now the two are feeling more hopeless than ever. 

On their last resort, Daniel pays a man to smuggle him and Viktor into the UK on a boat to bring them 20 miles through a channel. They meet at the rendezvous and hop into a van with eight other people. When they pull up to the shore of the boat, they realize it's more of a big raft. Everyone in the van scrambles to get on board. Then another van pulls up, and ten more people try to climb in. The raft is so crammed that their belongings won't fit. 

Fear contorts the faces of everyone on board. "Danny, we can get off," Viktor pleads. 

But Daniel is determined. "No. We can do this. We can do it."

In the next shot, the camera pans to the beach where we find Daniel lying cold, bloated, and lifeless on the beach. Viktor stands over his savior, alive, but without the love of his life. 

The moment slaps you in the face. Daniel risked everything to save Viktor, and ultimately, he gave his life.

Hubris is the downfall of many a hero. Daniel seems to believe himself too white, too rich, too privileged, to die in this fashion. “He’s arrogant and he’s heroic,” Tovey told Variety. “Yes, it’s what you do for love in a desperate situation, but he’s very arrogant. He thinks, ‘People like me don’t die. We’re going to survive and I’m going to get the life I want, because that’s what I get.'"

That wasn't the case. And Daniel's fictional death is a haunting reminder of what's going on around the world right now.

"It was really heavy because you’ve got all of these people on this boat and the reality of it. The opinions I had before are even more sympathetic and generous to people who do that now. And it’s happening every day — it’s happening all the time — people are desperately trying just to be alive,” said Tovey.

Just last month, a father and daughter drowned in the Rio Grande river trying to cross the border from Mexico into the U.S

Years and Years is set in this fictional future where some of our most horrific fears have come to life, but people still just want simple things like safety and love - and those seemingly basic things know no borders.

People will continue to die as Daniel did. Hopefully, the epic tragedy of Daniel and Viktor can wake people up to see the truths of what's happening around the world right now - and what will continue to happen if we do nothing. 

The final episode of Years and Years premieres on HBO tonight.

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Taylor Henderson

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one! 

Taylor Henderson is a PRIDE.com contributor. This proud Texas Bama studied Media Production/Studies and Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin, where he developed his passions for pop culture, writing, and videography. He's absolutely obsessed with Beyoncé, mangoes, and cheesy YA novels that allow him to vicariously experience the teen years he spent in the closet. He's also writing one!