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Based on the British series of the same name, Showtime's 'Queer as Folk' presents the American version. Following the lives of five gay men in Pittsburgh, 'Queer as Folk' is a riveting drama full of sex, drugs, adventure, friendship and love. Although the creators of 'Queer as Folk' wanted to present an honest depiction of gay life, it is by no means a comprehensive depiction. In addition to the usual sexual escapades and relationships of the five friends, the show explores critical gay political and health issues. Written by
As an older man (55), I'm amazed at the level of graphic nudity, the frankness of the sexual couplings whether gay or lesbian sex is involved, and it struck me as astonishing that the reason I would sometimes be uncomfortable viewing these scenes, is that there are virtually no images for gay people on TV that are comparable to those in QAF. I'm no prude, and thank goodness I've stopped squirming. My normal reaction is that if a series is good in its original British guise, the Americanization will be awful. Not so here. QAF started for me as a superficial soap about gay life. But once the first season was half over, I was hooked. I found I cared deeply about these characters. Their insular gay world in Pittsburgh was refreshing. The relationships work beautifully and you see a fairly representative slice of gay life on this series. Sure everyone always seems to be showing up at the big gay club with its go-go dancers and steamy back room. But how wonderful to have a show all about gay people where nobody gets killed for being gay, or commits suicide or is in some sort of depression or any other negative situations that have been such a feature of films showing gay characters as life's losers.
Gale Harold's Brian took me totally by surprise. His no gamesmanship attitude towards sex and relationships makes total sense. What I responded to is his character's absolute refusal to be liked, unlike the very likable Michael (Hal Sparks) whose insecurity demands that he be liked. Brian's a stunning bad boy, confident of his looks, his talent, his ability to spot bullshit a mile away. He wants to be appreciated for his worth. Nothing wrong with that. He's unapologetic about his sexuality and is not obsessed with settling down into domestic bliss the way Michael is. Michael is a child, but a sweet one with his love of comic books, and his unresolved longing for Brian. His character's worry about everything has finally become endearing. Peter Paige's Emmett is adorable and heartbreaking. I love that he's always picking himself up after every romantic disaster, dusting himself off and heading towards the next with high hopes. Scott Lowell has a natural affinity for Ted Schmidt's insecure and manipulative accountant. I'd like him to settle down for awhile. I sometimes weary of his travails.
At first I thought Randy Harrison's sweetly beautiful Justin was going to be a fluffy love toy for Brian, but Justin's own problems have shown Brian's caring side, and you get to see that Justin is no dummy. He goes after what he wants. Nothing wrong with that. Sharon Gless's working Mom waitress can be abrasively grating at times, but she presents a loving mother to a gay son, and that's a good thing. Michelle Clunie as Melanie and Thea Gill as Lindsay strike me as an appealing, smart, and caring lesbian couple Their stability as a couple shows what is possible without proselytizing.
Now in its fifth season, I've come to appreciate the show in big gulps since I rent each season from Netflix. It's a real wallow, and I'm always sorry that it's over. Right now I'm deep into season four and I can't wait to find out what happens next. QAF is excellent series TV, vastly entertaining. Best of all it won't make you feel dumb.
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