Now (2003) in its third season, Showtime's Queer as Folk follows a cast of gay men
and lesbians in their life-like scenarios. In contrast to many of the
TV shows that resonate with queers in the United States (i.e. Will and Grace),
QAF also contains a component that probably accounts for much of its appeal:
Queer as Folk (US) is based on a British TV series of the same name.
Arguably, there are many regulars on the show, and at different points in time, different
individuals are key figures in the plot. However, a few folk have been around since
Described as brutally honest and completely detached, he's not a Zen master. "I don't believe in love. I believe in fucking." Nearly every night, this
ad-exec goes out on the town and finds yet another new sexual partner.
Brian is the stud of the series. If you are watching to see sex, it's most
likely that he is who you watch. Much of the plot revolves around his sexual
activity, from the 17-year-old he sleeps with at the beginning, to the best-friend
he never quite had sex with.
Michael is the best-friend in question. They've been together since high
school, and couldn't be more different. Michael is the regular guy. He likes
comic books. He's looking for love, and sometimes he seems to find it.
His relationship with Brian has a smoldering sexual component to it, stemming
from the time Michael's mother walked in on them in a mutual masturbation
session. It seems that Michael hasn't quite gotten over that event, though, and
sometimes even jealousy can stem from the incident: when Brian starts seeing
Justin regularly, the animosity is sometimes thinly-veiled.
Justin shows up in the first episode, sneaking into the gay club Babylon,
where he soon hooks up with the hottest guy in the place: Brian Kinney. With
Brian as his first gay experience, Justin quickly latches on and expects a
relationship, but that doesn't fit well with Brian's emotion-free motif.
Despite conflict and difficult, Justin finds a lot of support in Brian's
group of friends, including Michael and his mother.
The ultimate PFLAG mother, Debbie (almost) always has good advice for the
queer folks to go with, even if they don't want to take it. Michael's mother works
at a diner on Liberty Avenue, the center of the show's gay universe. Debbie
plays a maternal role to almost all the gay boys running around, but is ready
with wisecracks to put people in their places at any time.
The extent of her support is demonstrated when she brings Justin, whom she
has dubbed 'Sunshine' into her home (Michael's old room, no less) when he runs
into a lot of problems with his family while coming out. It can also be seen
in her relationship with Vic, her HIV positive gay brother.
Lindsay Peterson and Melanie Marcus
The lesbian couple plays out as a couple throughout the series. Lindsay's
identity seems to be much in line with the everyday housewife, if you add-in
that the housewife is a lesbian who gave birth to the child of her gay best-friend,
Melanie appears to be the more masculine of the two, a Jewish lawyer who steps
quickly into conflict with Brian but loves the trio's son, Gus. It's probably because
the two are so alike: she is also described as having a tough, no-nonsense
Ted. Starting the series, Ted is a boring accountant without a lot of
character, but quite a bit develops throughout the series. Originally, his
work-life is a bore and his love-life a snore--but watch out. A little web-porn
business can go a long way.
Ted is almost inseparable from his best-friend, Emmett.
The queen of the group, Emmett is one of the two regular cast members who is
gay in real life. Originally from Mississippi, he brings Southern comfort to
new levels as he helps to take care of his friends' relationships and develops
a few for himself as well.
Paraphrasing something he once said: some may contain their flame down to a
little pilot light, as for Emmett, he'll let his flame burn bright.
Most of Queer as Folk takes place in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It's not exactly
the gay mecca that one might expect, but when the show focuses on Liberty Avenue
and Babylon, you wouldn't know the difference. Much of the setting serves to
sell more sex, but also provides space for academia (a la the Institute of Fine
Arts and Carnegie-Mellon University), business (Brian's ad firm), and suburban
home life (the home of Lindsay and Melanie).
Other places of interest include Michael's mother's home and Brian's loft.
Many people of color express disappointment at the very, very few queers of color
depicted in the show. Aside from a couple minor flings, almost no racial or ethnic
minorities are shown whatsoever. The weight behind this critique is the fairly
common view that there are no queers of color.
Life isn't like THAT!
Other viewers feel the need to clarify that, as gay folk, they're not so promiscuous
as shown on TV, nor do they have so much fun as the people here. The return criticism
is that the show is life-like. In order to appeal to as many folks as possible,
many different experiences and situations are shown.
It's not likely that anyone would be fired from their job for masturbating at work,
create a porn business, have a near fatal drug overdose, and end up sleeping with their
best friend...but hey, it COULD happen.
Queer as Folk Season One and Two are both available on DVD as of this posting. Each
season seems to come out right before the start of the next, so as to allow people to
catch up. As far as research goes, there's no better way to understand a series than
to see it for one's self.
Some detail has been clarified here using the official Queer as Folk website as a
reference. That website can be found at queer.sho.com.
Queer as Folk airs Sundays at 10pm ET/PT. The show's contract has been renewed for a third and fourth season, at 14 episodes each.
Note: there are no trans or bisexual 'folk' on the show thus far.
Please feel free to /msg me with any suggestions or critiques for this node.