Tuesday, June 12, 2012

YAM LGBT Blogathon -- The awesomeness of QaF

Since I'm all for abbreviations and this post is for the YAM GLBT Blogathon, I thought I'd write about QaF. That, to those who don't know, is Queer as Folk. 

Now, Queer as Folk was a huge thing back in the day when it was originally on TV. The original, British version only ran for one season and one TV-movie, but it laid a foundation for the American version that became huge. What the shows had in common was the frank sexuality and showing the urban gay lifestyle in a way no one had seen before, not on TV. 

The American version of Queer as Folk ran from 2000 to 2005 for five glorious seasons. Whereas the UK version had the main characters more archetypes than actual characters you could take seriously, the US show managed to pull off much more than that. In QaF US, we see some serious arches and character development. In fact the growth the writers managed to pack into five seasons is staggering, if you compare it to some other drama shows out there.

Now, as many of you may know, QaF US was the first show on American TV to portray a simulated explicit sex scene between two male characters. And what a scene it was…. Not only do we see a scene between two men, we see a scene where someone loses his virginity. We see—even though we really don't see it—anal sex, rimming, even. When was the last time you saw either of those things on TV? Yeah, it's still not something you see in a regular drama show, yet this show did it twelve years ago.

I have to say I didn't see the show before a couple of years ago. I do, however, remember being in my early twenties when it was shown here in Finland, and I was so bummed the channel it was on was out of my reach at the time. Back then, I was a young, out and proud, so even though we didn't get The L Word until 2004, there was a LGBT show there already. In some ways, The L Word did to lesbians what Queer as Folk did to gay men.

What struck me first, when I started to watch QaF myself, was the frank portrayal of sex. I was shocked. Not because I'm easily surprised or don't approve of showing sex on TV, but because it was a ten-years-old show I was watching. Naturally, I enjoyed those bits, as do most of the people watching it, but soon I began to realize the other awesome things.

First of all, we get to see gay life. That's something refreshing in itself, but huge for us LGBTQ-people who get to see the straight lifestyle portrayed in every show we see. Many straight people never understand what we go through in our daily lives, let alone in general, just because we were born different.

The topics QaF covered went from the relatively ordinary things—like coming out, the club culture, safe sex, gay adoption, internet porn (also as an industry) and discrimination—to the things many people never even think of—like conversion therapy, underage prostitution and violence.

Secondly, the cast was well-thought, and the dialogue was spot on. What I also love are the contrasts it show. From the friendship between Brian and Michael, to the relationships Justin had with Brian and Ethan, to the lesbian couple's struggles compared to those the gay couples had. Even the two main mother-figures of the show—Debbie who was not only Michael's mother, but pretty much the only supportive mother Brian ever had, and Justin's mother Jennifer—were two very different women. At first they were different from each other, then later different from the other mothers (Brian and Lindsay's mothers, for example).

The subplots in the series are various and varied, and they are always meaningful or, at least, funny. The humor in the show is one of the major things that make it work so well. While the themes are often really heavy and heartbreaking, the humorous events and the witty dialogue make things easier to bear. Anyone who has seen the show remembers the hilarity when Debbie started dating and Emmett and Ted gave her certain tips…. But we also remember the end of season 1 and the subsequent horribleness….

If you've never seen the show and plan on beginning, please make sure you have a couple of episodes of season 2 also. When you get to the end of S01, you'll thank me. Trust me on this.

Queer as Folk has something for everyone. If you want the hot gay sex, you have it. If you're looking for serious themes, yep, they're there. Looking for fun? I can quarantee you'll laugh your butt off.

One of the best things Queer as Folk US gave us is Brian Kinney. Why? Watch the show and find out.

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