Finally I managed to finish my first ever viewing of Queer as Folk as a whole. Yay! One would think that with only five seasons it didn’t take so long, but alas, even binge watching can only get you through three or four episodes every evening. So what’s the verdict?
As I wrote a few days ago, the series is no doubt important in its own sense and has left a mark, but on the other hand is not without issues. A quick summary are the following:
- Everyone is simply too good-looking. Unfortunately the series falls for that old gag of why heterosexual women think that gay men are attractive – we spend a fortune on beauty care and beauty products and work out at the gym three times a week. In the series, even your average neighbor has a sixpack when he pulls up his tee. If only…
- Drugs galore! While certainly I can admit that I’m the holy mother Mary in regards to this (I don’t drink any alcohol and pretty much every experiment was a one-timer, though I tend to think that getting into pot/ weed might at least be useful to dealing with the pains from my chronic illness), I feel the way it’s portrayed is still over the top. Sometimes it feels like everyone is drunk or stoned all the time.
- The LGBT activisim is many times so prominent, it hurts. Yepp, I find it weird that the series makes claims to portraying “normal” gay life and actually even succeeds, but then you see a rainbow flag in every second shot at other times or there’s some campaign, fund raiser or whatever. A bit too much for me.
With that being said, the series is still enjoyable for the most part when it doesn’t try too hard to bring these issues up front and center, meaning the first three seasons mostly. In season four and five you really feel that the writers didn’t know which direction to take and crammed in every political and personal statement you can think of, which made me use the fast forward button on several occasions because it sounded too much like preaching. Generally I also felt that many story threads felt a bit schematic and were done away with too quickly like Ted‘s addiction problems or Brian‘s cancer. It didn’t seem to have much influence on later story lines beyond being brought up occasionally during discussions, but with no real background.
On the other hand of course the series is taking me back to my own hayday as a disco queen (not necessarily gay ones). Hearing the music made me hum along a few times and at the same time I feel wonderfully and weirdly reminded of what terrible clothes we sometimes wore. ;-) Despite my criticism of overburdening it with messages and political statements, it’s still also a good reminder of how much has changed for the better in those last ten years, even if the series itself may not have done much to eliminate some stereotypes and prejudice.
Character-wise I already mentioned in that other article that probably Brian is my favorite one of the show simply because he’s just himself rather uncompromisingly. Not always in a good way, but once he has made a decision, he doesn’t flinch. Justin is of course a cutie and who could resist him, but actually if there were a person that were to be “that guy”, Emmett would be my choice. I’ve never been into sissy boys or any of that, but in his own way he’s so charming, heartfelt, funny and pretty sexy. Go, figure! Ted is very much as they show him – dreary, boring, ridden with self-doubt. He’s exactly like some guys I met during my time – to shy for their own good to show their sexy abs and bulge out some tight jeans with their well shaped bums and big sticks instead of running around with plaid flannel shirts and their office trousers.
The women are a bit odd. Debbie is one of those half-half things. Sometimes it makes you wish your own mother was as open and supportive, but at the same her controlling everyone is pretty annoying. I actually liked Lindsay, but Melanie was getting a bit on my nerves by not controlling her own fears and insecurities. I also found it slightly unnecessary to further complicate matters with all that Jewish background or that story with her potentially lesbian grandmother. Too much fishing in the mud. And she was simply an unforgiving bitch when Lindsay had that tètè-à-tètè with Sam when we knew about her flirtations and affairs with other women.
And now for the big bomb: Yes, Michael (and Ben) are just awful. They are veritable caricatures of what most gay people I know absolutely don’t want to be or become. At times Michael is so judgemental, he really could pass as a disguised heterosexual. I tend to think that I’m a stiffler and inflexible at times, but geez, some of his views just make me want to smash his nose. His decisions are also so irrational. It really makes you cringe to see how he’s making his own life difficult. Ben‘s eternal concern over his HIV infection at times made you want to strangle him as well…
Overall I found the whole thing entertaining, but I doubt I could get my mother to watch it. As a gay person I understand many of the insider gags and jokes, but she definitely would not, which is probably the tragedy of the whole series: It doesn’t really reach the people who might need to watch it most.