Television Review: Queer As Folk
by Jonathan Sudduth
Published: February 14, 2002
Queer As Folk: Season Two
Showtimeís hottest new series last year has returned for a sophomore season with pride, but has the controversial show about a group of Pittsburgh gay and lesbian friends continued pushing the envelope of Pay TV or has the show run out of tricks?
Twenty-two episodes long, the first season of the US version of Queer As Folk hit all the right notes. A flashy tongue in cheek opening theme was paired well with equally campy introductions from various odd stars as Robin Quivers from Howard Sternís Radio Show and Harvey Fierstein. Sex scenes were laden with dramatic techno beats and were handled with slick finesse. (And it was a darn good thing too considering most American audiences hadnít seen two men going at it before on TV.) But the best part of the first season of the show was that it was truly new.
Queers werenít used mostly for ratings or punch lines, instead they had real lives and real stories to share that often had very little to do with who they slept with. Itís this drama that kept homo and heterosexuals tuning in every Sunday at 10 sharp. And it was because of the smart dialogue and three-dimensional characterization that let the show do more than survive on hot bodies getting naked.
When the season came to a close a dramatic cliff hanger bought together lots of elements that were continually built up over the course of twenty-two or so odd weeks. While a pretty typical instance of gay bashing did provide the catalyst for the conclusion of season one, it wasnít really the focal point. The trio of Brian, Michael, and Justin were interlaced so tightly that it really drove stakes through hearts to see one of the three potentially torn away from their lives.
Season two has gotten to a rocky start, but fortunately it seemed this past Sundayís episode (number six if youíre keeping track) made a glorious return to snappy writing and inventive camera direction. So while on many occasions the plot lines have become repetitive, they havenít reached the absurd depths of sit-com trash like Will & Grace.
Justin actually did seem to find a way into Brianís heart despite the latter wanting to trick like he did when he was twenty-nine (Heís now thirty, while Justin has gone legal at eight-teen) Michael let the good doctor David go which has seemed to please just about every fan of the show Iíve spoken with. And the lesbians Melanie and Lindsay are planning a wedding. (Even though it wonít be legally recognized.)
My biggest complaint so far in the second season is the lack of real story for second bananas Ted and Emmett not to mention a near complete disappearance of Justinís friend and mother. Other complaints deal with the loss of focus on their soundtracks, the removal of the guest host introductions, and that many would be major plot points resolve often in the same episode they are started in.
Hopefully all of these things that have been sub-par lately can be contributed to the fact that the writers and producers spent a lot of time on season one in hopes of being renewed and now that there seems to be a pretty secure place for the show on Showtimeís line-up Emmy nominations can be sought after.
I am obviously very much in love with the program still. The whole experience of Queer As Folk is wonderful I believe for the gay community because of the simple fact that issues that are particular to that way of life are dealt with in healthy ways and provide a lot of welcome entertainment as well. Role models and anti-role models have been carved out of the show, lives have been touched, and hopefully more eyes have become open.
After all, despite what Michael said in the first few seconds of the series premiere, it really isnít all about the sex. But having the gorgeous hot boys of Queer As Folk naked every week certainly doesnít hurt.
Queer As Folk airs new episodes on Showtime Sundays at 10pm and features repeats often throughout the week. Check local listings. (I've always wanted to say that.)