×

Queer as Folk

It doesn't get any gayer than this. Forget "Will & Grace" and "Normal, Ohio." Showtime's much-publicized American version of the British mini "Queer as Folk" is definitely not a sanitized version of the original show that raised more than a few eyebrows in 1999. If anything, the steamy sex scenes are even more amped up and graphic in this fast-moving series that paints an uncompromising and unpleasant picture of the young, gay urban experience.

With:
Melanie - Michelle Clunie Lindsay - Thea Gill Brian - Gale Harold Justin - Randy Harrison Ted - Scott Lowell Emmett - Peter Paige Dr. David Cameron - Chris Potter Michael - Hal Sparks Debbie - Sharon Gless

It doesn’t get any gayer than this. Forget “Will & Grace” and “Normal, Ohio.” Showtime’s much-publicized American version of the British mini “Queer as Folk” is definitely not a sanitized version of the original show that raised more than a few eyebrows in 1999. If anything, the steamy sex scenes are even more amped up and graphic in this fast-moving series that paints an uncompromising and unpleasant picture of the young, gay urban experience. But as Brit creator Russell T Davies and U.S. writers Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman have pointed out in numerous press interviews, the series is not responsible for the hedonistic, shallow lifestyles of many of its lead characters. Although show lacks the freshness and depth of the Brit series, it offers an honest, politically incorrect slice of life that’s as heartbreaking at times as it is funny.

This time around, the story is set in a working-class neighborhood in Pittsburgh instead of Manchester, England. In the two-hour opener, viewers meet Brian (Gale Harold), a sexual conquistador who changes partners as often as some change TV channels. Rarely motivated by anything other than pleasing himself, he moves from one man to the next and scorns anyone who believes in love and commitment.

Following Brian around like a puppy is his childhood friend Michael (Hal Sparks), a boyish store manager whose life changes when an older man (chiropractor Chris Potter) shows some interest in him.

Also in the picture is 17-year-old Justin (Randy Harrison), one of Brian’s one-night-stands who falls for him in a big way, and lesbian couple Lindsay (Thea Gill) and Melanie (Michelle Clunie) who are new mommies thanks to sperm generously donated by superstud Brian.

Rounding out the cast are Emmet (Peter Paige), a flamboyant club boy who has a fling with a Japanese hustler, and Ted (Scott Lowell), an accountant with a big porn collection and very little self-esteem.

Although several of the leads fail to go beyond the sitcom-ish, surface delivery of their lines (relative newcomers Harold and Sparks come nowhere close to generating the charisma and chemistry of Aidan Gillen and Craig Kelly in the Brit version) the women seem to fare better here. Gill and Clunie are quite effective as the sensible lesbian couple whose lives are forever entangled with Brian’s, and the dynamics of their relationship is frequently more interesting than the sexual escapades of the boys.

Veteran actress Sharon Gless (“Cagney and Lacy”) also makes a most welcome return to the tube as Michael’s accepting mother. Her portrayal of a working class woman who feels at home in the gay and lesbian community, is a real winner, and she brings a heady poignancy to almost all of her scenes.

Director Russell Mulcahy (“The Highlander”) adds his usual visual-candy approach to the subject matter. There are a lot of MTV-style, super-hyper sequences, and the sex scenes, as explicit as they are, are handled quite tastefully.

The episodic nature of the show and its storylines may remind some viewers of Armistead Maupin’s “Tales of the City,” but overall, the tone of “Queer as Folks” has a certain year-2000 acidity. Although everyone seems to be having lots of sex (in museums, hospitals, executive restrooms, sex clubs, starkly decorated condos and various other spots), there’s a cruel undercurrent here, which points out to the way youth and muscular definition are valued above anything else in the gay community.

Queer as Folk

Series; Showtime, Sun. Dec. 3, 10 p.m.

Production: Filmed in Toronto by Showtime; Executive producers, Ron Cowen, Daniel Lipman, Tony Jonas; director, Russell Mulcahy; writers, Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman; developed by Cowen and Lipman, based on the British series created by Russell T Davies.

Crew: Director of photography, Thom Best; production Designer, Ingrid Jurek; editor, Bill Goddard; music, Tom Third; costume designer, Julie Whitfield; casting associate, Michelle Short. 120 MIN.

Cast: Melanie - Michelle Clunie Lindsay - Thea Gill Brian - Gale Harold Justin - Randy Harrison Ted - Scott Lowell Emmett - Peter Paige Dr. David Cameron - Chris Potter Michael - Hal Sparks Debbie - Sharon GlessWith: Sherry Miller, Makyla Smith, Jack Wetherall.

More TV

  • How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    How Cooking-Travel Shows Are Changing TV

    Toyo hunches over his street food stove, cooking tuna with a blow torch, stopping to light his cigarette with it and produce a cheeky grin. The Japanese chef, who owns a roadside stand in the city of Osaka, is one of many highlighted in the Netflix series “Street Food.” Over the course of 30 minutes, [...]

  • SAG-AFTRA HQ

    SAG-AFTRA Leaders Approve Proposal for New Film-TV Contract

    The SAG-AFTRA national board has approved proposals for a successor deal to its master contract covering feature film and primetime television — a key step in the upcoming negotiations cycle with companies. The board approved the package Saturday with the performers union declining to reveal any specifics — its usual policy. The board established the wages [...]

  • Shannen Doherty'Jennie Garth: A Little Bit

    Shannen Doherty Joins 'Riverdale' Season 4 in Luke Perry Tribute

    “Riverdale” is planning to make a special tribute to Luke Perry. The show’s executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa announced at Comic-Con that Shannen Doherty, Perry’s longtime friend and “Beverly Hills 90210” co-star, will guest star in the season 4 premiere. The tribute episode will “reflect Perry’s enduring legacy and the indelible imprint his character” Fred Andrews [...]

  • Supernatural CW

    'Supernatural' Team Gets Emotional Final Season Sendoff at Comic-Con

    The cast and creative team of “Supernatural” bid a fond farewell to the attendees of San Diego Comic-Con on Sunday. At the show’s final panel in the gargantuan Hall H, the team thanked the fans for all of their support over the years as the series prepares to enter its final season. “I’m trying not [...]

  • Alicia Rodis photographed by Alicia Rodis

    SAG-AFTRA Moves to Standardize Guidelines for Intimacy Coordinators

    SAG-AFTRA is moving to standardize guidelines for intimacy coordinators as part of an effort to establish policies for union members when their work involves nudity and simulated sex. “Our goal is to normalize and promote the use of intimacy coordinators within our industry,” said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris. “Intimacy coordinators provide an important safety net for [...]

  • SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases

    SDCC TV News Roundup: Syfy Releases 'The Magicians' Season 5 Clip (Watch)

    In today’s SDCC TV news roundup, Syfy shares a clip from “The Magicians” Season 5, and Amazon sets the Season 4 premiere of “The Expanse.” CASTING Julie Gonzalo and Staz Nair have joined the cast of “Supergirl” for its upcoming fifth season. Gonzalo will portray iconic DC character Andrea Rojas aka Acrata, a polished businesswoman [...]

  • Doom Patrol -- Ep. 101 --

    'Doom Patrol' Renewed, Season 2 to Stream on DC Universe and HBO Max

    “Doom Patrol” has been renewed for a second season and will soon be available outside of DC Universe. At San Diego Comic-Con, series executive producer Jeremy Carver and star Diane Guerrero announced not only that the show will be back for another season but also that it will be available on HBO Max, the upcoming [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content