Offering no apologies, Queer as Folk took the world by storm when it debuted 5 years ago, containing the first explicit sex scene between two men shown on American television.
Offering a more realistic portrayal of alternative lifestyles than had previously been seen on television, Queer as Folk quickly became the number one show on the Showtime roster and, while it was originally targeted towards gay male audiences, soon adopted a large following of straight women as well. Few could resist the charismatic characters and the thought-provoking storylines.
But as they say, all good things must come to an end and, while many prayed it wasn’t so, this means Queer as Folk as well. After 5 years of controversial issues, ranging from same-sex marriages and gay adoption to internet pornography and drug abuse, one of Showtime’s most gritty and controversial shows is winding to a close.
The rumors surrounding this are as widely varied as the show’s viewing audience. “We didn’t want it to dribble on for years and years. No one is going to be interested in ‘Queer as Old Folk,’ ” stated Executive Producer, Danny Lipman. Viewers opinion seems to vary; some believing that the actors wished to advance their careers and move on to bigger projects, while others suggest that the new season, itself, hints at the very reason why the series is coming to a close.
When the plug is suddenly pulled on Rage, a movie based on Michael and Justin’s gay comic book, the film’s director explains, “The producer’s concerned about alienating the family,” and blames it on “the times, the political climate.” The tone is almost coldly flippant when he adds, “You know – Gay’s out. God’s in.”
Lipman admits that the new season’s content has been affected by political events. “There’s no question the season would have been different if George Bush had not been re-elected,” he says. “When we started, gay programming was a kind of fad. Now, we’ve taken a few steps backward.”
While viewers hold their breath and hope this is only a minor setback, there is one saving grace in all of this: For those who might have worried that Queer as Folk would die a sad and wishy-washy death, fear not; within the first two episodes, the show proved that it doesn’t intend to pull any punches, back down, or to let anyone off the hook. All the controversy, the drama and the sex that the first season offered us is back and in full-force, along with guest appearances by Rosie O’Donnell and Cyndi Lauper.
Midst the hypnotic strobes of Babylon, the character Brian (played by actor Gale Harold), leans against the club’s railing and yells out, “I’m a cocksucker! I’m queer! And to anyone who takes pity or offense, I say, ‘Judge yourself.” With the arrogance, pride and determination that we’ve grown to love, he adds, “This is where I live. This is who I am.'”
Only Queer as Folk could say it so well.