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Series / Cucumber

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This definitely reminds me of something...
I read this article once —- it said there's an institute in Switzerland dedicated to sex, and they published this report. They spent ten years studying the male erection. And they came up with a scale for measuring hardness. They said there's four categories of hard-on, from soft to hard, starting with the softest. Number one: they called that tofu. Number two is peeled banana. Number three: banana. Number four: cucumber.

Cucumber is a 2015 TV series by Russell T Davies (aired on Channel Four) which revolves around an older generation of gay life in Manchester. It acts as a sequel of sorts to Queer as Folk. The main characters are a settled cohabiting couple, Lance (played by Cyril Nri) and Henry (Vincent Franklin) who have a terrible date night in the first episode.

It has two companion shows. Banana (on E4) is an Anthology series of one-off episodes featuring minor characters from Cucumber, while Tofu (on 4oD) features the actors and members of the public discussing sex, usually with an LGBT focus. For the sake of simplicity, any tropes from either will be listed on this page.


Cucumber & Banana both contain examples of:

  • Cast Full of Gay: Most of the characters on both are gay, or at the very least, not entirely straight.
  • Shared Universe: Both exist within the same setting as Russell T. Davies' prior series, Queer as Folk.
  • Simultaneous Arcs: The stories told in Cucumber and Banana overlap with one another on a few occasions.

Cucumber contains examples of:

  • Ambiguously Gay / Ambiguously Bi: A few characters, unsurprisingly.
    • Daniel's insistent Gay Bravado and constant reminding of his heterosexuality suggest he isn't exactly straight. His later interactions with Lance and some other people seem to confirm it, even if he adamantly refuses.
    • Adam is a confusing case. He makes a name for himself vlogging homoerotic videos of gay chicken with Tomas and doesn't seem to be getting any gratification from it ... but later, they ostensibly enter a polygamous relationship with the same girl, and he seems noticeably upset watching Tomas flirt with a waiter at Lance's funeral. He's ultimately revealed to be dating a girl after the Time Skip in the finale, but that doesn't necessarily prove anything....
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    • Tomas is also a little questionable. Freddie claims to have fucked him in the finale, but Henry counters that in saying Tomas has since fled Manchester to become a Republican mouthpiece in Boston and was conning them the entire time.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Something is deeply wrong with Daniel, even being called "insane" by one character.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: All signs point to Daniel being this.
  • Ax-Crazy: Daniel kills Lance with a golf club to the head while in a manic state over his Gay Panic.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The only primary character who dies during the series is Lance.
  • The Casanova: Young and beautiful Freddie has many partners, both male and female.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: There's a colossal shift in tone starting with the sixth episode, after Lance is killed by Daniel.
  • Collateral Angst: Lance's death provides lots of anguish for Henry to deal with, even if they were separated when it happened.
  • Continuity Cameo: Hazel Tyler from Queer as Folk.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Episode 3 is largely told from Freddie's perspective, while Episode 6 is about Lance.
  • Death by Sex: Daniel only kills Lance after he attempts to reciprocate oral sex on him.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Freddie softens over the course of the series with his many Hidden Depths being revealed to the audience, but only slightly.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: Lance ultimately gets to keep his and Henry's house, forcing the latter to move in with Dean and Freddie. After Lance dies, his sister struggles to relinquish ownership of the house.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Her: Hazel (from Queer as Folk) is revealed to have died since that series ended when she appears to Lance on Canal Street.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Henry is massively guilty of this, usually with Freddie.
  • Ephebophile: Freddie's high school teacher, with whom he entered a sexual relationship that still affects him years after the fact.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Henry is introduced in the first episode obsessing over the different types of erections men can have while in the grocery store.
  • Fake Nationality: In-universe, it's implied that Tomas isn't actually Polish but rather, putting on an act.
  • Gayborhood: Manchester's Canal Street features in the show, though the older cast tend to spend time in the quieter trendy bars of the Northern Quarter.
  • The Ghost: Christopher, someone of relevance in Freddie's past who's never seen or heard from. Turns out Christopher is Freddie's sociopathic older brother.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Lance dies while smiling, recalling his life..
  • Homophobic Hate Crime: In episode 6, Lance Sullivan, the protagonist's love interest is violently killed by having his head smashed with a golf club. The motive was homophobia.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Vehemently averted by Henry, who (understandably and justifiably) refuses to let people guilt him into thinking he's the reason Lance was killed.
  • Insanity Defense: Daniel (unsuccessfully) pleads the Gay Panic defense over killing Lance.
  • The Lost Lenore: Lance.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Freddie, without a doubt —- and he knows it.
  • No Bisexuals: Averted, mostly with Freddie.
  • Oh, and X Dies: Episode 6 opens with Lance taking Henry's usual role in the supermarket ... and nonchalantly revealing he'll die in the episode.
  • Opening Narration: Most episodes open with Henry setting up plot threads of the upcoming episode to the audience, while shopping for groceries.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Henry considers his Character Development over the entire series to be this in the finale.
  • Speed Sex: Dean suffers with his lack of sexual stamina during sex, much to his (and his sexual partners') frustration.
  • Rape as Backstory: Regardless of whether or not Freddie actually consented to his relationship with Gregory at the time, it still counted as statutory rape and Henry calls Gregory out on that.
  • Spirit Advisor: Hazel appears to Lance and warns him not to go home with Daniel that night; he doesn't listen, and is killed by Daniel because of it.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Dean's Geordie crush refuses to see him again after learning how extensively he'd been tracking him on Grindr.
  • Title Drop: Henry outlines the three (scientifically-identified) types of erection in the opening scene of the first episode: cucumber, banana, and tofu.
  • The Twink: Freddie is a major Trope Codifier of this.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 6 —- Daniel kills Lance.

Banana contains examples of:

  • A Day in the Limelight: Each episode focuses on a different character, a few of which who were introduced on Cucumber.
  • Passing the Torch: A meta-example; Helen's episode features Julie Hesmondhalgh, famous for portraying Transgender woman Hayley Cropper for 16 years in Coronation Street, acting alongside Bethany Black, the first trans woman to play a trans woman on UK TV.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Scotty's episode is about this; Helen's ex Eddie also counts.
  • Spiritual Successor: In a way, Banana is almost like a gay version of Skins with each episode focusing on a different character, which also aired on E4 previously.