‘Queer is Folk’ is back with a with a new city, characters and stories

Queer as Folk

Queer as Folk returns this week in it’s third incarnation. The newest take on the story of found family in the queer world is set in New Orleans and features a distinctly more diverse cast than the two previous versions of the show.

Warning: Minor spoilers are in this article. 

The new series has arrived on STAN with eight episodes to stream. Immediately we’re introduced to Brodie Beaumont (Devin Way), he’s just arrived back in New Orleans having dumped his studies in medicine.

We quickly meet his wealthy parents plated by Ed Begley Jr and Kim Catrall, and his older brother Julian – who has cerebral palsy (Ryan O’Connell). He reconnects with his best friend Daddius (Chris Renfro) and his ex-boyfriend Noah (Johnny Sibilly), unaware that while he’s been out of town they’ve got a lot closer.

He checks in with close friend Ruthie, a transgender school teacher (Jesse James Keitel) whose about to have twins with partner Shar (CG). Brodie has supplied the sperm for their soon to arrive family.

We also meet Mingus (Fin Argus), one of Ruthie’s high school students who dreams of being a drag performer. He’s supported by his fully accepting Mum (Juliet Lewis), whose more than happy to drop him off at the local gay club, where he soon hooks up in bathroom with fast acting Brodie.

The story elements are very similar to how the previous versions of Queer as Folk began, the original British series came out in 1999, and a US remake followed two years later. There’s the mother’s of gay sons, a young man stepping into the gay queer world, a set of established friends, a few slightly toxic relationships, the start of a new family, a nightclub called Babylon, a full on rimming scene, and like the original UK version – one central character doesn’t make it past the first episode.

This time around though there is a huge amount of diversity not seen in the previous series. There are lots of people of colour, transgender characters, and people with disabilities. Alongside Ryan O’Connell who created the amazing series Special for Netflix, Eric Graise, who uses a wheelchair, plays the character of Marvin. One thing there is less of in this series though – there’s still very few lesbians.

It would be unfair to judge this new version of the Queer as Folk to the earlier shows that it shares it’s name. When Russell T Davies original British show was released it was groundbreaking for including queer characters who were clearly accurate representations of gay life in late 90’s – a world that had rarely been accurately captured on television. Until that point we’d rarely seen accurate representation on television, and we definitely hadn’t seen overt and realistic depictions of gay sex.

Two decades later there are hundreds of queer characters on television, and a fair dollop of same-sex sexual activity too. So it’s a different time. Showrunner and head writer Stephen Dunn has spoken about how his series tries to incorporate sex scenes in a way that is more narrative driven, propelling the story forward. There’s no sex just for the sake of it.

Ahead of the series release the writers shared that a tragedy early in the story changes the character’s lives. That tragedy is a mass shooting in the nightclub Babylon. Coming just days after the horrific shooting at a Texas school, it’s a poignant story line, but there seem to be so many lost story telling opportunities in this presentation.

Firstly some of the characters seem to be quite superficial in their reaction to the shocking event, but also has viewers we are yet to get any emotional investment in the characters before they face their darkest day. Considering the writers worked with survivors of the Pulse nightclub massacre, the first few episodes don’t really dig into the effects of this trauma.

Queer as Folk – the 2022 is a quality television program, filled with great performances, an impressive cast, intriguing characters, but it was never going to be the ground breaking show it was in the past. Make the next version in Australia, Queer as Folk Down Under 

All eight episodes of the new series of Queer as Folk can be streamed on STAN.

 


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