The Real Meaning Behind Fellow Travelers' Title

The Real Meaning Behind Fellow Travelers' Title
Image credit: Showtime

Explained by McCarthy himself.


  • Fellow Travelers is a Showtime political thriller miniseries based on the book of the same name by Thomas Mallon.
  • It follows the lives of two men who work for the U.S. government and fall in love with each other over four decades, from 1950 to 1986.
  • The term Fellow Travelers, used in the title of the series, is used to describe a group of people who sympathize with the cause but do not participate.

Although Fellow Travelers could be seen as a tragic love story alone, it would be unfair to the show to leave out all the political elements.

The tragedy of the events of the Lavender Scare, which took place within the U.S. government in the 1950s, is so intertwined with the characters and their fates that to leave one out would immediately make the other shallow.

Fortunately, the show does a great job of educating its viewers on the procedures that took place during those years, as well as the terms. However, the one used in a title is the one that has the most meaning and has raised the most questions and guesses about how it relates to the story.

Why Fellow Travelers Is Called Like That

The Real Meaning Behind Fellow Travelers' Title - image 1

Both the direct and indirect meanings of the phrase can be used to interpret the title. We first hear the phrase in the first episode of the series, during McCarthy's speech. He mentions that the government doesn't need fellow travelers, meaning people who aren't willing to give it all up for the cause.

Both Tim and Hawk, the main characters of the series, fit this description. While Tim supports the anti-communist goal of the campaign, he can't go all in because of the homophobic part of it. Hawk, on the other hand, loudly declares himself to be a neutral party in any political battle that arises.

The Real Meaning Behind Fellow Travelers' Title - image 2

This could also be used as a metaphor for LGBTQ+ activism, which would be fitting for Tim, Hawk, and Marcus at the beginning of the show, with each of them slowly but surely becoming active participants and fighters for the cause.

Another meaning, the most direct of all, would refer to the structure of the show. Not only do viewers travel with the main characters through decades of time, but the characters themselves travel from one place to another at different stages of their lives. In that sense, we all become part of a group of fellow travelers.

If you haven't had a chance to catch up with Fellow Travelers yet, you can stream the show on Paramount with Showtime.