EJ Moreno reviews Queer As Folk 2022…
Living in Central Florida all my life, going to college in Orlando, and being part of the gay community, I’ve always heard of Pulse. It wasn’t the most high-profile gay nightclub ever, but it was memorable and served as a home for queer people in the area. His legacy was cemented in far more tragic fashion on June 12, 2016, when a shooting killed 49 people and injured 53 others. It’s taken a while, but there’s finally a piece of pop culture that the community can use as reflection. It comes in the form of 2022 queer as folka new series for Peacock.
It surprised me to see creators going this route; the original Showtime series dealt with a similar story with a bombing but never built the whole story around it. This queer as folk uses a shootout at gay club Babylon as the crux… for better or for worse. After watching the series, it took a while to figure out my feelings about it. During the first episode, when the filming of the series took place, I had to pause and take a moment to collect myself. It’s incredibly impactful and handled in such a brutal way.
I do not blame the filmmakers for having followed this path. Still, there’s no denying that this will be painfully unsettling for many viewers: the gaze of the shooter, someone we never fully see, is reminiscent of the killer from the Pulse set, the direct aftermath is incredibly tragic and seems so chaotic, and we see our main characters changed forever because of it. There will be a backlash as many will feel it exploits tragedy, and I can’t deny that I have felt that at times. But as the series progressed, I felt the story was well used to push the stories forward and a reminder of how the mass shootings seep deep into the souls of those affected.
Each episode reminds you that you don’t get rid of these things quickly, and that you also have to deal with your trauma head-on. There’s even a cute shoutout to specific people trying to profit off of tragedies in the name of good. Lots of bases were covered, and while it’s messy, I found the whole thing oddly refreshing.
Part of me wanted another R-rated Melrose Square where there are only gay bitches who are bitchy. This made both the original UK and US Queer as Folk so camp and perfect. It dealt with real things like addiction, infidelity, and gay bashing, but never lost its edge. peacock queer as folk doesn’t have the same granularity of the early 2000s, but I was surprised by what they did. The first moment in the series is a sex scene featuring Devin Way’s Brodie having sex with a man who obviously looks up to him as a fetish. It’s authentic and modern and not something I would expect from NBC/Universal.
Creator Stephen Dunn’s platform is being used very well, and it shows that he wants to use mainstream services like Peacock to showcase queer stories in a different light. The show’s sexuality is also used in incredibly uplifting ways. There are several love scenes with people with disabilities, we see queer bodies portrayed in sexual but respective ways, and the whole thing tries to “normalize” a lot of ordinary things.
Seeing characters like Ruthie (Jesse James Keitel) get important stories about her trans identity is rare but still very new here. We see Ruthie working as a teacher, living her life as a mother with her partner Shar (CG), and it’s going well. When Jesse James Keitel deftly curses a storm or plays a hot mess, you’re reminded that Ruthie’s wholesome side drives her crazy. These stories add to the pantheon of queer stories we can tell, which helps Queer as Folk 2022 stand out even more. Ryan O’Connell’s Julian is another example, but fans should know that O’Connell nails queer life for his community ideally in his series. Special.
The series is not always perfect for the characters, especially certain protagonists. There will be a fandom for Brodie x Mingus, and I know future stans will champion both characters hardcore, but they don’t for me. Separately or together, it is difficult to manage their plots of very young adult novels. Brodie suffers from irritating main character syndrome; think a little about Carrie Bradshaw in sex and the city. Just someone you can’t relate to, and if that’s the intention, then Brodie Way nails the role.
Mingus is also a little hard to swallow, but Fin Argus is a much more charming performer. They work well when it comes to scenes with their on-screen mother, played by Juliette Lewis. Honestly, you can have all the young adult drama; give me Judy from Lewis partying with the gays.
A promising sign is that there are also a handful of characters I want more of in another season. Whereas Queer As Folk 2022 Season 1 doesn’t flesh out everyone, it just gives me enough to want more. CG’s Shar is a great character, and I expect a lot more from them in Season 2. The same goes for Kim Cattrall as Brenda, criminally underutilized this season. Between her interactions with Ruthie & Shar and being Brodie’s adoptive mother, it seems odd that we haven’t had more. Johnny Sibilly’s Noah character also needs more time to simmer for me, but there’s a lot of good here.
After a while, these characters feel like your friends, even the ones that annoy you a bit. With the group of friends of Queer As Folk United States being the lifeline of the series, it’s good to see them attempt that here. There’s still room for more of the whole band to hang around a bit, but that’s something I can easily see happening in other seasons to come. And yes, I would watch a few more seasons of this show.
When filming is not the center of everything, where could queer as folk go? It worries me that the story of a shooting affecting a group of friends might not get very far, and it would be painful to see the show attempt more tragedies to draw viewers in. Peacock’s Queer As Crazyk never slips into tragic porn or a real “make ’em cry” series, and I don’t think that can work. You want the show to feel like the group of friends you want to hang out with, not the self-help group you’re forced to attend.
Queer As Folk 2022 swings for the fences, and it mostly knocks it out of the park. There’s so much that could have gone wrong with a reboot of a beloved cult series, and it’s refreshing to see a series avoid it. In a time when we have been shot down or silenced by the government, we need all the transgressive and proudly gay content we can get. Not every TV series is lucky enough to work for another generation, and if people come to it with an open mind, the end product is one of the juiciest, must-watch queer shows.