Sensible Peacock Reboot – The Hollywood Reporter
The New Peacock Catalyst Event Queer as Folk is a horrible act of violence. Midway through the first episode, an anonymous gunman walks into a New Orleans gay club called Babylon and opens fire on the crowd of revelers. Most of our main characters are among them, and for the rest of the eight-episode season, they’ll grapple with their lingering guilt and grief, with the unthinkable ways their lives changed that night, with the holes that this left at the center of their community.
Yet despite the heavy premise, the series as a whole is surprisingly light on its feet. Sure, here and there are painful digs of trauma or equally heartbreaking moments of defiant joy. But for the most part, the show allows its characters to be just as messy or silly or sexy or serious after filming as they were before. And his refusal to define their lives through this tragedy feels like a gift, not just to the characters but also to an audience that has heard far too many stories like this, or perhaps even rubbed shoulders with a similar horror.
Queer as Folk
Equal parts silly, sexy, serious and smart.
by Stephen Dunn Queer as Folk is billed as a “reimagining” of Russell T. Davies’ groundbreaking gay drama from the turn of the millennium, and fans of the original will occasionally spot the Easter egg or catch echoes of certain characters or plot points. But no prior knowledge of the previous series (nor of the American version that followed soon after on Showtime) is required to follow this one. The first episode wastes no time sketching New Orleans’ bustling queer nightlife scene, centered around the charismatic but somewhat self-absorbed prodigal son Brodie (Devin Way).
For about half an hour, we follow Brodie as he zigzags through town reconnecting with old friends and making new ones. About a dozen main characters are introduced around this time, each representing another knotty strand in its tangle of interpersonal relationships. This is before filming, and also the birth of the twins of Brodie’s best friend Ruthie (Jessie James Keitel) and her partner Shar (CG) on the same evening. Between the amount of information imparted in this first episode and the pronounced tonal shifts necessitated by the plot, it can all feel heavy, even overwhelming.
Fortunately, the series settles into a more comfortable pace by its second or third installment, once all of that necessary groundwork is complete. The expansiveness of Queer as FolkCasting comes with a few downsides. Some of the recurring characters, like no-frills drag queen Bussey (Armand Fields), end up feeling like props in other people‘s stories, and we can only hope they lead more stories in future seasons. . And even more important characters like Mingus (Fin Argus), this Queer as Folk‘s resident lovelorn teen, are better developed in some areas than others. (The show casts them as two high school friends without a single distinctive personality trait between them.) But its diversity allows the show to explore a wide range of storylines from a multitude of perspectives.
Mind you, a significant chunk of it includes the usual soapy drama about who hooks up or lies about it or secretly loves it (and a lot of it involves Brodie’s ex Noah, emotionally played by hacks‘Johnny Sibilly). This fondness for chaotic personalities means we’re rarely more than half an episode away from an explosive argument or misguided kiss, leaving Queer as Folk scratch the same predictable yet satisfying itch as any prime-time drama about attractive, charismatic people who spend too much time drinking together.
But there are also stories about Ruthie, a trans woman, struggling with a shifting libido that challenges her sense of self. And about Mingus working through their conflicting feelings about returning to dating after their first performance was cut short by filming. And about the particular challenges faced in the gay dating scene by disabled men like Julian (a very sweet Ryan O’Connell, also a writer and co-executive producer), who has cerebral palsy, or Marvin (Eric Graise in a prickly but affecting performance), a bilateral amputee.
Both Queer as Folk and its characters are downright allergic to anything that could be considered tragic porn, inspirational porn, or a teachable moment. The gang brush off strangers who think they’re just ‘so brave’ to survive, reject worried nudges from loved ones for therapy and roll their eyes at ‘Babylon, Babylon-Strong’ events hosted by an annoying acquaintance which, they snicker to each other, gives off “Mayor Pete fake gay vibes, but like, evil.”
Instead, their idea of commemorating the dead involves throwing wild parties that provide the opportunity, as Bussey puts it, “to remember our friends not as symbols but for the messy adults we knew and loved. “. Queer as FolkThe Candid Approach to Sex Scenes – This is a series that opens with two men enthusiastically fucking as hard bodies spin on a nearby TV, and happily seizes any opportunity to admire a pretty ass, a toned chest, or even the occasional schlong—looks like a reflection of that same shameless spirit.
But if sap or shyness isn’t really the show’s thing, sensitivity is. Unlike her outspoken portrayals of desire or drugs, this Queer as Folk is keen to avert his eyes from the traumatic material. The filming in the first episode is less seen than suggested – we get alarmed facial expressions and weapon sound effects, but are largely spared any lingering shots of gory action or mutilated bodies. In an episode tracing Ruthie and Brodie’s friendship back to their teenage years, every mention of Ruthie’s dead name comes out. Such choices feel like a calm but firm statement of the show’s values: pro-sex, pro-empathy, anti-violence, anti-transphobia.
The first episode ends on a fantasy. In a slow-motion montage lit with a pink glow and sprinkled with confetti, we cycle through glimpses of that fateful first night as it should have gone: Mingus celebrating his first drag performance, Brodie and Marvin cheering on the crowd, Ruthie and Shar cuddling over their newborns, Noah kissing his date Daddius (Chris Renfro) along the wall. It’s a sharp and poignant summary of what was stolen the night the shooter entered Babylon. The rest of Queer as Folkin its loving embrace of these flawed, complicated, sometimes infuriating but ultimately endearing individuals, becomes a reminder of all that was not.