Queer as Folk
A seminal LGBTQI+ drama resets for a new generation with a fabulous cast and a new crisis for its universe.
Audiences were shocked by the opening episode of Britain’s Queer as Folk in 1999 when 15 year old Nathan (Charlie Hunnam) learnt all about rimming.
Russell T. Davies’ seminal drama only ran for 10 episodes but it was ground-breaking for gay audiences and ignited a US adaptation which ran for 83 episodes.
But while the show was essentially about family, much has changed since then: same sex marriage, social media, gay families, non-binary teens, Grindr, #metoo, Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, Ukraine war…
Television has also unleashed a wave of LGBTQI+ content, including the affirming teen series Heartstopper, defiant trans series Pose, HIV-AIDS drama It’s a Sin, period drama Gentleman Jack, plus Looking, Schitt’s Creek, Special, Please Like Me and more.
The challenge for a new Queer as Folk is finding its role as much as its voice but the new version by writer / director Stephen Dunn (with Davies as an Executive Producer) gives this a red hot go.
Relocated from Manchester and Pittsburgh, to New Orleans, it’s still about family but with a more inclusive brush. The central character is Brodie (Devin Way) a sexy, mixed-heritage young man who fathers twins to two lesbians, Shar (Candace Grace) and Ruthie (Jesse James Keitel), who also happens to be M2F.
The irresistable Brodie catches the eye of skateboarding non-binary teen Mingus (Fin Argus) at Babylon nightclub -there’s a nod to that controversial sex scene when the two collide.
Brodie, who is returning home from Baltimore, also has history with hunky Noah (Johnny Sibilly) who is keeping secret his relationship with a mutual friend, Daddius (Chris Renfro). Meanwhile his wealthy parents -who presumably adopted him as a child- played by Kim Cattrall and Ed. Begley Jr. can’t keep their son in check and brother Julian (Ryan O’Connell) barely maintains any relationship with him.
There’s also Juliette Lewis as Judy, mother of Mingus, Armand Fields as drag queen Bussey Horewood, bilateral amputee Eric Graise as Marvin and Brandon Gilpin as a high school friend to Mingus.
It would be easy to try to correlate the new characters to originals (Brodie is clearly Brian / Stuart and Mingus is Justin / Nathan for example), but Stephen Dunn has also upended things by shifting or possibly deleting characters. I suspect Kim Cattrall to adopt the maternal role played by Sharon Gless, but I’m struggling to pinpoint who is Michael / Vince, previously the centre of the QAF universe.
What he has retained is the sense of family that pulls these characters together which was richly life-affirming in a time of HIV-AIDS. But there are new crises to contend with in America and one real world incident appears to be the inspiration for a major plot point in episode one….
There’s also in-your-face sex scenes, hints of nudity, and punchy dialogue such as “The best way to get over someone is by getting under someone else.”
New Orleans serves as an eclectic, colourful backdrop to high soap, with Devin Way magentic as the gorgeous, self-centred Brodie, Fin Argus bold as the identity-proud Mingus and Ryan Connell solid as the shy but grounded Julian. Jesse James Keitel is also one to watch in her constant anarchy.
This Queer as Folk resets its world, which could be challenging for rusted-on fans, but it deserves a chance to light a fuse for the next generation.
Queer as Folk premieres Friday June 10 on Stan.
Wow…I have to say its not that bad! (watched 5 episodeses already)
I never jibed with the other two versions. The first US version in particular was hard to get into and I found some characters too grating (Brian in particular).
But this one really works for me. Wonderfully diverse cast with interesting characters that are well cast. Fin Argus was brilliant in Clouds and even moreso here; I’m particularly drawn in by their storyline.
The episode focusing on people with disabilities, which is either the third or fourth episode, is a standout. Love how real and honest this felt, as someone with a disability.
Really hope we get a second season.
The second reboot *ended* 17 years ago guys, the original 22 years! A lot has changed since then and a whole generation will have missed out. The originals will always exist, and in fact a new series will likely spark interest in the originals.
And David, I think you might have made a mistake about the amount of episodes? The original series ran for 10 episodes over 2 seasons (S1 8eps, S2 2 eps)?
Thanks for spotting.
For years I’ve read QAF British vs American version & which was better. For me, 2 totally different shows & both excellent. I’ll give the new one a go. But there’ll never be another Brian Kinney.
The original shows aren’t that old, why are they rebooting everything? Try something new. The originals were great but as you have said, suited to a very different time where being gay was still kind of ‘underground’. That’s what in many ways made the original so relatable and relevant.
I’m worried about this reboot.
While I’m all for more inclusion (especially within the LGBT community) sometimes messing with things that just worked, doesn’t work out for the best. Fingers crossed on this one.