The public was shocked by the opening episode of Britain’s Queer as Folk in 1999 when 15-year-old Nathan (Charlie Hunnam) learned all about rimming.
Russell T. Davies’ groundbreaking drama lasted only 20 episodes, but it broke new ground for a gay audience and led to an American adaptation that lasted 83 episodes.
But while the show was essentially about family, a lot has changed since then: same-sex marriage, social media, gay families, non-binary teens, Grindr, #metoo, Black Lives Matter, COVID-19, war in Ukraine…
Television has also unleashed a wave of LGBTQI+ content, including the confirming teen series heart stopperchallenging trans series AttitudeHIV-AIDS drama It’s a sinperiod drama Mr Jackplus Looking, Schitt’s Creek, special, like me and more.
The challenge for a new Queer as Folk likes his part as much as his voice, but the new take from writer/director Stephen Dunn (with Davies as executive producer) gives this a red-hot.
Moved 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 young man of mixed descent who fathered twins from two lesbians, Shar (Candace Grace) and Ruthie (Jesse James Keitel), who also happens to be M2F.
The irresistible 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 clash.
Returning from Baltimore, Brodie also has a past with the beautiful Noah (Johnny Sibilly) who keeps his relationship with a mutual friend, Daddius (Chris Renfro) a secret. Meanwhile, his wealthy parents – who presumably adopted him as a child – are played by Kim Cattrall and Ed. Begley Jr. can’t control their son and brother Julian (Ryan O’Connell) barely maintains a 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 Mingus’s high school friend.
It would be easy to try and correlate the new characters with the originals (Brodie is obviously Brian/Stuart and Mingus is Justin/Nathan for example), but Stephen Dunn has also turned things upside down by moving or possibly removing characters. I’m guessing Kim Cattrall is taking over Sharon Gless’s mother role, but I’m having trouble pinpointing who Michael/Vince is, formerly the center of the QAF universe.
What he has kept is the family feeling that brings 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 a real-world incident seems to inspire a key plot point in episode one…
There are also in-your-face sex scenes, hints of nudity, and spicy dialogue such as “The best way to get over someone is to crawl under someone else.”
New Orleans serves as an eclectic, colorful backdrop for high soap, with Devin Way magical as the gorgeous, self-centered Brodie, Fin Argus brazen as the identity-proud Mingus, and Ryan Connell solid as the shy but grounded Julian. Jesse James Keitel is also someone to watch in her constant anarchy.
This one Queer as Folk reset its world, which can be challenging for entrenched fans, but it deserves a chance to light a fuse for the next generation.
Queer as Folk premieres on Stan on Friday, June 10.