Showtime’s Queer As Folk is absolutely captivating. It’s arguably conceived a landmark in television history. Besides being risqué, and possibly THE show to take precedence in full graphic gay sex, the show fully realized it’s potential with modern day depictions of the gay community. Sure, some critics say that it’s over-the-top and deemed unrealistically fabulous, but this is television for Christ’s sake. First and foremost, the show was about a group of gay friends living in the metropolitan city during the new millennium.
With a whooping 22 episodes, the first season is essential viewing. From my first impression, I didn’t think the show was great: extremely outdated (2000?), forced stereotypes, shallow and annoying characters, mediocre cliché plots. But what kept me going was it’s reputation and the queer underground scene: drugs, sex, boys, social issues, more sex. After the first three episodes, the show was vastly improving and proved to be an unstoppable force in melodramatic television. There wasn’t authentic personalities like this on Friends for a boy growing gay. The characters popped out of the screen. The underaged twinkie Justin (Randy Harrison) had his coming of age from social issues like coming out to loss of virginity to homophobia. Shameless and proud Emmett (Peter Paige) and self-conscious Ted (Scott Lowell) dealt with identity issues such as religious conversion, AIDS, and drug use. But my two favorite characters became Michael (Hal Sparks) and Brian (Gale Harold). Michael was the most relatable character because of his boy-next-door charms, his unrequited love for Brian, and the way he tackles commitment and unfaithfulness. It was his narrative, so the audience followed along. Brian was the most intriguing and complex character because he’s a bastard by nature, and yet god’s gift to gay men. He treated everyone like crap and screwed everyone (physically and emotionally), but his underlying contradictions came through with his friendship with Michael and his burgeoning relationship with Justin.
But no matter what happened, the show was always about sex. It was everywhere with all the hot boys as almost voyeuristic of this underground lifestyle: shallow, sex-obsessed, superficial. There’s no denying you wanted to join in with some of the best energetic dance and house music of its time. I liked the show because it never preached because while it is fun to see the glossy and liberating scenes, many did not stay away from the ugly and the loneliness. The first season finale brought the show to an astounding climax as we saw the high points in Brian’s and Justin’s relationship, the sad end to Michael’s and David’s picture-perfect relationship, and the ugly side of the gay world with a baseball bat at the end. By the end of the first season, the characters will sink into your heart like old friends.
Queer as Folk is a great show, and I give accolades for being the first show in LBGT history. It’s groundbreaking, fabulous, heartbreaking, real, vapid, sexual, entertaining, well-written, beautiful, humanly flawed, honest, raunchy, empowering, intelligent, and funny all at the same time. And F.Y.I., “it’s all about sex.”
My Rating: A