SPOILER WARNING: This blog entry contains what may be considered spoilers for the Showtime/Showcase original series Queer As Folk. If you plan to watch the show, bookmark this and come back to it after you’ve watched.
Two weeks ago, a friend of mine stayed over and saw that Showtime’s five-season television series Queer As Folk was on my Netflix queue. She hadn’t seen it in years and suggested we watch a few episodes. So we did. We watched the first three in one sitting and then another episode the next morning, before she headed back to DC.
I liked the show, so I continued. It was on my Netflix queue for a reason, after all; I’d just never seen it until now.
I watched the rest of the first season (which is 22 episodes in all) by myself over the course of the ensuing week. In that last episode, something big happened. Huge. So I became a madman and watched the remaining 61 episodes (four seasons) the following week, taking breaks only to work, sleep, shower, make food, or spend time with my boyfriend.
It’s been a while since a show has pulled me in this hard; maybe no show ever has. I was utterly obsessed. Throughout my viewing of Queer As Folk, I exhibited a range of emotional reactions, many of which are embarrassing for most men, but I’m not ashamed. At various times, I chuckled, nodded in recognition of some realistic truth. Got glassy eyed. Laughed out loud. Actually shed tears, shook my head, or pounded my fist into pillow. And on a few occasions, I cried until my face hurt. I went to bed thinking about the show, and I woke up thinking about it.
But I wouldn’t have it any other way; I live for this kind of intense, no-holds-barred viewing experience. After all, I want to write for TV, and I feel at home with drama. I love a show that can make me feel so many different things.
What I find most enjoyable about this series is that it’s something for me, in more ways than one. It’s something that I would have loved as a teenager struggling with my sexuality. But it’s more than just dazzling displays of men in various stages of undress. It’s more than prototypical drag queens (not that I’ve ever identified with that particular aspect of gay culture) and relationship drama. It’s about life. It’s about people struggling to live in a world that consistently shuts them out, puts them down, tells them they are less-than. And it’s about the people—gay, straight, or otherwise—who happen to be their allies. Their champions. Queer As Folk tells every LGBT person out there that he or she is valued, loved, and powerful and that it’s possible to find both romantic and platonic/familial love in a sea of uncertainty and hate.
Another thing I enjoy about this show is its surprising complexity and powerful, gritty storytelling. Although I’ve done my share of sowing wild gay oats, I’m not exactly Brian Kinney: immature, unapologetic, complex but shallow, gorgeous, promiscuous to the hilt. A sex bomb. Resistant to love. I could never be that guy, primarily because I’ve never been what one would call “hot,” but also because I love love and monogamy too much. But I can identify with Brian at his core. There’s a reason Queer As Folk is regarded as one of the most groundbreaking queer-themed shows that has ever aired. While Brian is a bit of an asshole, there is a lot more under the surface, and it’s a joy to see it unwrapped. Then of course, there are the other incredible characters the show has to offer.
Despite the show’s acclaim, its ending has been seen as somewhat polarizing due its refusal to pander to the fairy tale mentality. I admit that I, too, was initially heartbroken when I saw it yesterday. After a few minutes, though, thinking about the show’s structure, themes, and character development, I realized how brilliant it was.
I’m so glad that I found this show and that, most of all, the writers held onto their principles in the end.