Is this a thing yet? The rise of the MOTHs

Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. (Dear Film)

I finally got around to seeing the new adaptation of John Le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy this weekend, and, wow. It is everything I want in a spy movie: Beautifully visualized, relentlessly realistic, complex, and excellently performed by basically every worthwhile British-accented male actor alive today—Gary Oldman’s subtle turn as the master spy George Smiley is entirely Oscar-worthy, and Benedict Cumberbatch is excellent as Peter Guillam, the Watson to Smiley’s Holmes (an insidery irony, as TV Tropes points out).

But one detail of Tinker Tailor got me thinking about something beyond the murky world of Cold War spycraft: in a brief but touching twist, Guillam is forced by circumstances to abandon a male lover, lest he be outed and fired. Guillam’s sexuality is given no prior indication beyond his predilection for slightly flashier ties than those preferred by his colleagues in British Intelligence. It’s in line with the plot, and a nice bit of added depth to a great performance by Cumberbatch—yet I’ve seen it before. Several times before, in fact.

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