Feb 19, 2012

[TV] Queer as Folk (US) - Season 4

As I go through writing the reviews for this series, I totally get the urge to actually invest a few weekends re-watching the show. While their view of the gay world is different from how things are here in the Philippines, it's certainly still a good story that merits some time and attention. It's not quite a life story to model one's own after, but it's still one worth enjoying from a TV perspective.

As a show continues on into multiple seasons, the writing does get a bit stressed in terms of what can be done. And for a show that practically feels like a gay soap opera at times, you can get some pretty quirky twists. Some of them still realistic and plausible. Others that just seem to go a wee bit too far off the deep end, if you catch my drift.

I still generally enjoyed the show at this point despite some of the weirder character changes and story twists. But I have to admit that by this point, some of the characters were really starting to tire me out. So I suppose it was just as well that this was the second to the last season for the show. Best to think about tying things up before the writing gets too strained or unrealistic.

Queer as Folk is the US adaptation of the British series of the same name created by Russell T. Davies. The show had been adapted for US television by Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman, who also acted as writers and executive producers for the show.

At the end of the third season, we saw Brian (Gale Harold) risking everything to bring down an anti-LGBT politician, Michael (Hal Sparks) and Ben (Robert Gant) trying to figure out how to make Hunter (Harris Allan) a permanent part of their alternative family and Ted (Scott Lowell) hitting bottom in terms of substance abuse. And thus this fourth season begins as the characters begin to pick up the pieces. Brian is deeply in debt. Michael and Ben are engaged in custody hearings over Hunter. Ted is in rehab.

And this leads us to the many different plot threads for the season. Brian decides to start his own ad agency. Ted tries to put his life back together after rehab. And Justin (Randy Harrison) becomes very serious about his efforts to protect gay teens from bullying - perhaps to a rather extreme level. And beyond the custody battle, this is also the season when Michael and Justin get an offer for a movie deal for their gay comic book character Rage and thus takes a trip down to Hollywood to explore more of this option. That naturally leads to new angles of stress for their relationship.

Randy Harrison
Randy Harrison (Image via RottenTomatoes.com)
Obviously, I didn't really are for Justin's whole "Pink Posse" story and related shenanigans. It probably ties to how I never really liked Justin as a character and his development over the seasons just made him more and more unlikable from my perspective. I also felt bad about Emmett (Peter Paige) and his whole story with the pro football player. As much as it was a sort of cool concept for him to have that kind of a relationship, but at the same time I felt that in these later seasons, his character really didn't get as much in terms of good story opportunities. Far too often he's been relegated to some sort of a funny supporting character when in fact I felt he represented one of the strongest people in their little cluster of friends.

Having Brian finally go on his own was an interesting story, along with Ted's eventual climb back into a normal life. I always felt that it had been somewhat unrealistic that Brian could hold a job in someone else's company given his attitude at times. Thus his needing to find a way out for himself seemed like an inevitability that should have happened a season or two earlier. But it did prove to be a very good move for him and it certainly helped his character grow up a bit.

This season also decided to give a bit more value and thought to the story of Vic (Jack Wetherall). I don't want to get into spoilers or anything like that for those who still haven't seen the show (and there are more of you out there than folks realize, I'm sure). But needless to say it was another mature plot line and I'm glad that they decided to invest a bit more in his life given how he's been largely a background character for the most part.

This season of Queer as Folk was okay, but definitely not their best one. I feel they could have taken things to a smarter level had they felt they were up to it, but still they didn't quite go there. Thus I rate the season as 3 surprise twists thrown in to further humanize Brian out of a possible 5.

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