'History' - written, directed, edited by, and starring Jack Tracy - is a six-part series that explores the (pun very much intended) ins and outs of a group of gay friends living and working and playing in New York. So far, so familiar, with numerous parallels immediately able to be made. With the more realistic, frequently awkward, down-to-earth tone of Girls and the brunches and gossip-y social get-togethers of 'Sex and the City', this could very well have been named Sex with Boys in the City. And this is a sex-heavy show meant strictly for mature audiences. But at the same time 'History' is very much a more nuanced story-piece than it first appears, and those above comparisons would suggest.
From episode three onwards, there is clearly a lot more confidence and comfort in both the writing and direction and, even more so, in the performances. 'History' is a very talkative piece, but there comes some moments when words are no longer needed, and Jack Tracy - both as a writer, director, and as an actor - is unafraid to let things play out almost silently. This is most visible and profound in the moment's when he is confronted by stark truths and realisations. In one of the episodes, the character of Jamie is taking a selfie with a friend who insists that they show no teeth, prompting him to (as far as I'm aware) to invent something called 'Smising' wherein his face remains stoic whilst his eyes smile. He really needs to come up for a term for the dramatic version of this phenomenon, because - whether it's a friend highlighting how pain exists outside of his own or when he's receiving a voicemail that serves to convey just how much pain he himself is on the verge of inflicting upon others - It's all in his eyes, and it's beautifully done.
What 'History' presents, and quite well, is that this is a journey. One that explores the history of a man and how it informs his present and, inevitably, his future. Though some of the flashbacks work and others generate confusion, they are always thematically or emotionally linked, either highlighting flaws or adding context to some present decisions. And Jack Tracy does a great job of making the character of Jamie at different points in his life seem physically and emotionally distinct.
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