How ‘The Buccaneers’ Crafted Josie Totah and Mia Threapleton’s “Joyful” Queer Romance: “Never Even a Discussion”

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The Buccaneers (2023)

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Apple TV+‘s new series The Buccaneers is a bold new take on Edith Wharton’s final, unfinished novel about the Gilded Age American heiresses who went to Europe to marry impoverished British nobles. Already the series has changed many elements from Wharton’s book for the screen. Nan St. George (Kristine Froseth) is secretly her father’s illegitimate child and alt rock girlies like Phoebe Bridgers and Miya Frolick pepper the show’s soundtrack. However, the best change that The Buccaneers makes from the book is probably the queer romance that blossoms between Mabel Elmsworth (Josie Totah) and Honoria Marable (Mia Threapleton). The two shared a passionate kiss in the rain all the way back in The Buccaneers Episode 3 “The Perfect Duchess,” and take their relationship to the next level in The Buccaneers Episode 5 “Failed Betrayal.” While everyone else is busy running around a hedge maze, the two ladies sneak off to make love.

“We always knew we wanted to have a queer storyline in it. It was kind of never even a discussion about whether we would or we wouldn’t, it was just kind of obvious that we would,” The Buccaneers creator and showrunner Katherine Jakeways told Decider. “And we wanted it to be a joyful relationship.”

“You know, we didn’t want it to be telling a queer love story which was really sad and hard. Of course, there are loads of barriers in their way and they have to be more secret and it’s sort of different and challenges are different for them, but we wanted them to be joyful and we wanted them to be funny.”

Humor was the key to making sure Honoria and Mabel’s relationship stayed light and joyful. Jakeways added that “Mabel is such a funny character,” which is why they wanted an esteemed comic actress like Josie Totah in the role.

“Josie was suggested to us actually by our brilliant casting director and immediately it just felt perfect because, you know, she is a sort of icon of that community and she brings her own thoughts about it and her own experiences to that role,” Jakeways said, noting indirectly that Totah made headlines by publicly transitioning as a teen actor.

“But, you know, we cast her because she’s really funny and she’s really brilliant. When we met her and she did her tape, she was immediately just perfect for Mabel and it was really moving…Of course, she’s perfect for it.”

Jakeways went on to say that she didn’t “want to just say” that Totah was funny because she was also “really great in the more dramatic moments.”

“She was very truthful with it and she was very careful with Mabel. She cared about that story a lot, as did Mia who played Honoria,” Jakeways said. “We sort of all wanted to do it justice and make it feel as much of a joyful story as any of the other love stories in the show.”

Ironically, Buccaneers fans could argue that Mabel and Honoria’s romance is probably the most joyful love story on the show. At least, it’s better than Jinny’s (Imogen Waterhouse) marriage, Nan’s tense love triangle, or Conchita’s (Alisha Boe) fraught relationship with Richard (Josh Dylan)…