Mar 4, 2012

[TV] Queer as Folk (US) Season 5

Wow, another "series" of blog reviews finally comes to a close with this review of the last season of Queer as Folk. Sure, the show ended pretty much 7 years ago, but it doesn't make it any less important in terms of our shared queer cultural history of sorts. It's a show that won't necessarily become something that everyone will love, but it still deserves to be watched at least once to see what the fuss was about.

Plus for many young queers, it was a big leap forward in terms of cementing the idea that there is a gay community out there that deserves recognition in popular media. It was one of the first shows that really tries to tackle a lot of the more serious LGBT issues out there and until today you can still find folks who quote the show or cite it as a reference of sorts.

I admit that on a personal note, I "grew up" as a gay man with this show. I can't say that I necessarily learned all the "right" lessons from this show and the aspects of gay culture it tended to popularize, but it did open my eyes to many different aspects of gay life and helped me find characters that I could associate with or relate to, one way or another.


Queer as Folk is the US adaptation of the Russell T. Davies TV series of the same name. It was adapted for US audiences by Ron Cowen and Daneil Lipman for Showtime.

This last season of the show had a lot of characters making some major changes in their respective lives as they move forward into a new phase that we're not going to see beyond series finale. Or at least that's my theory, since I felt a lot of the ideas for the characters were a bit weird.

Some of the major arcs of this final season include Brian (Gale Harold) using his new-found wealth to re-open the dance club Babylon. The big Rage movie deal for Michael (Hal Sparks) and Justin (Randy Harrison) falls apart. Ted (Scott Lowell) decides to take definite steps to improve his appearance artificially. And Debbie (Sharon Gless) decides to finally retire from the diner and live the life of a lady of leisure.

Yeah, I couldn't quite resist that alliteration.

I think the only plot path that I sort of liked more was how Emmett (Peter Paige) got a job at the local TV station as the "Queer Guy", although even that story arc didn't resolve in an overly happy manner. When you get down to it, this season decided to break a lot of the already "established" ideas about a lot of the characters and pushed them into new directions. Maybe this was a last ditch attempt to create new interest in the show or perhaps they writers just wanted things to go out with a bang.

Gale Harold
Gale Harold (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)
At the heart of everything, whether we like it or not, was the odd dysfunctional romance between Brian and Justin. And in many ways this may make or break the series for you as a viewer depending on how "romantic" you find a guy who doesn't believe in marriage or even truly serious commitment until towards the very end of things. I personally was never a big fan of their on-again, off-again relationship (cue hate comments right around...now) and so to have the show celebrate this fact at the very end did seem odd. Then again, it wouldn't have been realistic for him to want to get married at the end of things since that would go against his character.

On the whole, I really think the whole series peaked around the third season and it was the right idea to wrap things up the way they did  two seasons later. A lot of the plot threads had pretty much worked themselves out over the years like the state of contentment presented by the Ben (Robert Gant) and Michael relationship while other characters got somewhat waylaid to the side like Emmett mostly.

But at least we had Cyndi Lauper in this season. Yay for that!

So this final season of Queer as Folk still ends with a respectable 4 ways Debbie tries to fill up her time outside of the diner out of a possible 5.


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