The New Wham! Film Speaks Loudly in Careful Whispers

The Couch Tamale
15 min readJul 18
A scene from the new Netflix documentary “Wham!” (Netflix)

George Michael would have turned 60 this year. What if reality could be remixed, and he lived?

In an alternate universe, George Michael wakes up from his 2011 battle with pneumonia and seizes this second chance at life. He hires a wellness coach who helps liberate him from addictions and swears off smoking. His lungs and heart heal.

Alternative George Michael lives to see “Last Christmas” finally reach number one, but he doesn’t rest on nostalgia; with new vigor the singer pursues his wide range of creative interests. Audiences are thrilled when George and Sade duet on a James Bond movie theme, which wins the Oscar, no contest. He records a club banger with SZA and Mary J. Blige. In the spirit of his underrated covers album “Songs from the Last Century,” Michael releases a critically acclaimed album of the songs of Burt Bacharach. His same-gendered pronoun performance of “One Less Bell to Answer,” stuns Glastonbury and racks up millions of views.

In this other dimension, George Micheal is healed from his guilt about coming out “too late” after multiple contemporary LGBTQ organizations honor him as a pioneer of sex positivity; he accepts the award from Janelle Monae and Troye Sivan. P’NAU remixes “Father Figure” with supporting vocals from Frank Ocean. Instagram accounts are devoted to Michael’s “Daddy-style.”

George Michael seems happy, is happy, as he takes the stage at the end of a Pride month birthday concert celebrating his 60th and beams from the opera box when Adele croons “Careless Whisper” and the multitude of gathered stars take turns in the finale dancing to “Faith.” The pop superstar thanks Andrew Ridgeley in a speech that leaves no doubt about their enduring friendship and Ridgeley’s significant generosity. Then, flashing that blinding smile, George Michael joins hands with his hot husbands, one on each side, and walks offstage as fireworks light up the London sky to the tune of “Freedom 90!”

This fantasy slipstream has currents of wistful sadness which exert a powerful pull but eventually I wake up from this bout of future nostalgia. It’s been stirred in me, and I suspect many others by the new documentary “Wham!” on Netflix. Though “Wham!” stays focused only on the beginning-to-end of the titular pop duo, it doubles as…

The Couch Tamale

Film, Music, Peak TV, Diversity— Tom Cendejas is sitting on a sofa and unwrapping Pop Culture with a Latino eye, one husk at a time.