I still remember when Queer as Folk premiered on Showtime in the year 2000. I was sitting in my living room watching it on my 15″ GE tube TV, and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Men were having sex and relationships—with other men! Women were raising babies together.
Before Queer as Folk, the most shocking thing I’d seen on TV was Ellen DeGeneres saying “I’m gay” into a microphone at an airport. Oooh, scandalous! But that’s really the way it was, and just saying those words out loud was enough to start a war. Nobody had ever made a U.S. TV show like this before.
Queer as Folk pushed boundaries for five seasons and became a poignant time capsule of the real-life struggles we endured daily. Some of the specific portrayals caused discord within the community, as LGBT members argued that it wasn’t a realistic representation of everyone.
It’s true; we didn’t all spend our nights at bars, surrounded by drag queens, taking drugs, and having anonymous sex. But it was necessary at the time to rip the mask off and reveal themes that were unapologetically honest.
14 years later, Queer as Folk has been added to Netflix’s streaming service, exposing a whole new generation to the series. It’s quite amusing to read some of the commentary by viewers in their early 20s, who’d never heard of the show until now. Many of them love it, and can’t believe this was on TV, knowing it’s provocative even by today’s standards.
Daniel and I have been re-living the series through Netflix and I’m actually very impressed at how strong the show still is. I think I have more respect for it now.
Some of the clothing is hilarious to see. Emmett’s shirt with the plastic window over the chest comes to mind as one of the most iconic examples of “Y2K” era fashion in the show. There was also a man wearing a shiny black shirt. God, I remember those shiny shirts—I loved them! But bad fashion aside, most episodes could easily take place now and still seem current.
If you watched the show in the early 2000s, I recommend checking it out again. And if you’ve never seen it before, I think you’ll enjoy it.
Leave a comment and let me know your favorite Queer as Folk memory.