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Review: Queer as Folk Season 5 Finale

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PM Rating System

Queer as FolkEpisode: B | Season: B | Genre: Drama

It’s been five years since we were first introduced to the boys of Liberty Avenue. They were as gay as gay could be and wore their pride for the world to see. It’s a world that reluctantly looked the other way as long as gays kept their place in the social order and didn’t shake the boat. Like any opposed minority, it was only a matter of time before they rose up. They wanted the same rights every heterosexual couple enjoys, which has sparked a nationwide backlash of mammoth proportions. Queer as Folk was one of the pieces bringing us to where we are today. It was the middle finger to all those who said they were an abomination. It was the series that showed heterosexual America what gay life was really like, clearing aside the cluttered stereotypes and misconceptions. Yet it only reached those whose minds were open enough to receive it. It brought its series to a close Sunday night in a fitting tribute to this groundbreaking series.

Now there is little question that the show’s edge had dulled over the years. What started out as visceral, in your face, man on man action that lent a voice to the issues and fears plaguing the gay community had, in recent seasons, grown into a weary soap opera, muzzled of its bite. In its final season, it slowly hoisted itself from the ground, padded itself off and tried to see this series out in the manner and respect it so richly deserved. So let’s lay the groundwork. A bomb shattered the tranquil existence of our Folk several episodes back, critically injuring Michael, and shutting the doors on Babylon for good. This shocking episode was the series at its best, and this event would send shockwaves through the fate of our characters. Melanie and Lindsay choose to pick up sticks and high tail it to Canada where everyone is accepting and they don’t have to fear for their children’s lives.

What I want to know is why none of the characters told them to stay and fight? Change can happen, but only if people stand up and demand their rights in the face of their oppressors. What kind of message is that sending, that instead of being a pillar of strength for their children, they opt for the easy way out, jumping the border? Both Brian and Michael give their blessing even though Brian is given pause when he realizes Gus will grow without a father much like he did. Ted has a new ultra-possessive boyfriend, Tad, who looks eerily like Ted himself. And last but certainly not least; Brian and Justin are getting married. No, that was not a typo. Hell is actually making preparations to freeze over.

The most unabashed playboy of the Pittsburgh gay community is leaving the wanton life of drugs and casual sex in the city to plant himself in domestic bliss in the country. I can see the Vegas dealers right now setting odds on whether this blessed/cursed event will actually take place. Roll tape on this week’s episode. Brian was totally neutered. Clients gave him a heaping load of crap, and he ate it with a smile. The juiciest of man candy gets served up at the stag party in a metallic thong, and he sends the banana hammock on its way. Justin even heavily prodded him for some serious stiff prodding to which Brian suggested they cuddle instead. This is the stuff coronary embolisms are made of. It was as if the engagement had enacted a complete frontal lobotomy on him. Like Superman pinned in some Bizzaro universe he was unable to escape from.

We find out Ted’s new guy is a total box of fruit loops missing the prize. He flies off the handle in a blind, jealous rage at the stag party over nothing as his true colors come beaming through. Of course, constant companion Emmett swoops in to the rescue, though you’re not quite sure where this consoling is going considering the characters tangled romantic past. Thankfully, they avoid the easy “Ted and Emmett happily ever after” and magically make Blake appear out of thin air to fill Teddy’s emotional vacuum that he emptily said he wasn’t going to stuff guys into anymore. Michael and Ben adopt Hunter in an ultra-cheesy scene at the diner. In an emotionally charged goodbye, Mel and Linds do slide out of Pittsburgh after all to freeze their butts off in Canada. No more hot lesbian sex action.

Enough with this goofy filler, onto the marriage of our Godless sodomities. Justin becomes increasingly disturbed by this Brian look alike and wants to know what alien has possessed his scintillating body. Brian confessed that he was just trying to be everything he thought Justin wanted. That triggers the similar compromise Justin made concerning forgoing his art career in New York for Brian. Suddenly, they realize that by getting married they’d be forcing each other into becoming something they weren’t and neither could snuff out that person they loved so dearly.

The episode ends fairly depressingly for Mr. Kinney. His surrogate girlfriend heads to the land of hockey and maple leaves. Then his love flies away to crazy cabbies and talentless art critics. Though he is Brian once again, you get that nagging feeling his fate is to die alone as an over-the-hill club boy as Michael would say. Enter Michael to take Brian back to Babylon for a final trip down memory lane. So it ends as it began with Brian and Michael on the decimated floor at Babylon, dancing their cares away. As they dance, Brian’s Babylon gets restored to its former glory as the glitter rains from the rafters and the thump-a-thump-a shakes through the glistening bodies on the dance floor. Everything is how it should be.

I have to respect the writers for not taking the weenie way out by sailing Brian and Justin off into the sunset and causing Mel and Linds to stay at the last second. In the end, they stayed true to the characters, and the series needed to leave us with that much more than a sappy ending. After five seasons, I can say I will miss Queer as Folk. It’s writing had struggled in recent seasons, signaling that the series had run its course, but there was a lot of heart and good times wrapped up in these characters. Its hard not to think back to that hard hitting first season and remember the show for the potent punch that it once struck, rather than the watered down drama it evolved into.

This episode and this season as a whole was a fitting close to a once great television series. Queer as Folk highlighted the lifestyles and the issues surrounding the gay community in an honest and frank way we hadn’t seen before. It got us talking and accepting that which was unknown. It created a new level of awareness and caused many to embrace acceptance rather than boarding the bandwagon of bigotry and hatred. For that, Queer as Folk was a tremendous success that will be greatly missed among the hetero saturated television universe. Let’s hope Gale Harold, Hal Sparks and the rest of the talented crew continue their vibrant acting careers in other thought provoking films and television series.

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For more reviews by this author, please visit PM Media Review

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About Mark Runyon

  • Eric Olsen

    super job as always Mark, very perceptive – thanks!. Please simplify the coding, though. This one was wrapped around itself like a python before I pruned the middle

  • Sorry about that Eric. I was trying to get it to look like this (http://www.pmmediareview.com/archives/2005/08/queer_as_folk_s_1.aspx) for the sake of having a standard format between the two, but something on this page wasn’t letting the HTML cooperate as it is supposed to. I’ll use the format you’ve laid out here for future posts. Thanks-

  • Eric Olsen

    your link sure looks great, no doubt. It’s the pic and Related Articles in the middle that cause the problems. The beginning with the pic and the stoplight seems to work fine and is certainly a unique identifier

  • Yeah I tried playing with that middle block for a while, but I couldn’t figure out what was off. Web development is my day job so it’s one of those little things that gets under my skin when a page gets the better of me.

  • Eric Olsen

    fear not, I’m sure it’s something on our end – most outside formatting doesnt’ work at all, so you’re ahead there!

  • Great review. I think the final episode definitely made a good end. It finally stopped the craziness of Brian throughout this season, and brought him back full circle, with some changes of course. As a reviewer of this season myself, I found myself shaking my head at some of the storylines this season, but I agree the bombing episode was one of the best episodes of this show, only second to the prom episode in its intensity. I was definitely sad to see this show end.

  • I agree with you completely. The bombing episode gave me chills, and I’d forgotten this show could do that. I almost gave up on the QAF after last season because it had gotten so badly watered down, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Season 5 wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it was just enough to find a proper resolution for these characters

  • Great review, Mark. I’ve been a QAF fan since Day One and was gradually let down from seasons 2 – 4. This final season made up for it all. Kudos to all the cast members and behind the scenes folk at QAF. They gave us a show that let it all hang out. Some of what we saw wasn’t pretty but it was realistic and made me proud. After five years I asked myself last night if we gays are better off today than we were five years ago. Well, things are better in Massachusetts and Canada!

    Michael’s monologue about saying ‘we’re all the same’ was quite poignant because in the end he realized that no, we are NOT all the same. Gays are very different from straights and, damn it, there’s no need for apologies! In many ways we have lost ground in the last 5 years but all in all it could be worse. I am more comfortable today with my identity than I was five years ago. In fact, I’m more comfortable than I was four weeks ago. I’m ready to take on those who will use the politics of queer fear to carry out their agendas in the next two election cycles. Just as QAF grew up this last season, so has Gay America.

  • It was a poignant speech and one of the best moments of the episode. I don’t believe I overlooked that in the review. It was dead on that everyone should be celebrating our differences instead of trying to blend in. Our rich heritage is built on these differences be it cultural, racial, gender or sexual identity.

    As far as losing ground goes, I think the climate is certainly more harsh, but there are definitely a lot of positives too. People are talking about this issue and it is in the light of day, which couldn’t be said 5 years ago. Granted, it’s still not much of a discussion, but I’ve got to feel it is the beginnings to change. It is extremely positive to see countries like Canada and Spain legalizing gay marriage, setting a precedent for others to look at. I can’t speak from first hand experience of course, but from what I’ve seen in close friends and relatives, I get the feeling that Gay America is more resilient and are finally starting to believe this is a war that can be won even with the political deck stacked against them at the moment.

  • My adult daughter has been a fan from the beginning, she tried several times to get me to sit and watch this show with her, long story short, didn’t start watching it until recently and now will have to go back and watch her season DVD’s. Basically good writing throughout. The story lines depict issues I have seen personally in dealing with gay/les. friendships in authentic ways. About time.

  • Well, Mark, once again, thank you. You summed up a lot of what I felt about QAF. To many it was just a television show but to me it was a milestone. I’m looking forward to attending the QAF Convention in Toronto in February so I can personally thank the folks that brought QAF to life in America. It may be a part of television history now but Brian, Michael, Ben, Ted, Blake, Emmett, Justin, Mel, Lindsay and especially Debbie are all in my heart.

    Had they been there when I was 17 I wonder just how different my life would be today. Indeed, it is about time.

  • LeatherButch

    a question not a comment… Im trying to find out who is actually gay in real time on QAF.


  • Doug

    Knowing that QAF would be coming to an end, I have struggled for months over the final episode. Your piece was masterful and, for the sake of not sounding too corny, has given me, and I’m sure many, the opportunity for closure. QAF has brought gay America to a new level of awareness and understanding. None of us will ever be the same for having been a part of it.
    Thank you.

  • I so agree, Doug. Those of us who became part of the QAF fabric will never be the same. I’m proud to be who I am and I am ever so proud of everyone associated with this show. They did the unthinkable and made it work. I can’t even begin to imagine how many lives they saved in the process.

  • Tanya

    I will miss them all soooooo much!!! I love them all! Although I know all good things must come to an end I’m sad that it has ended.

  • John

    I thought this show sucked from the beginning. Once I saw the original QAF from Britian, how could anything compare? There was no characters to relate to and “Bryan Kinney” was the epitome of a sleazy fag. I challenge anyone reading this to watch the original and not feel gyped by such pathetic pulp from North America. There was NOTHING original about this series. NOTHING. The actor who portrayed the original “Bryan” made one feel uncomfortable. You wanted to hate him, fuck him, and you couldn’t take your eyes off of him. So long pale QAF clone. You won’t be missed.

  • jinx04

    living in the uk means we have not yet seen season 5. but i will say this, as im sat at my laptop watching season 2 on dvd and hearing the news that this is the last time we will ever see peter, gale and the rest of liberty av gang i feel sad and scared if this is whot the world has come to were because some people (homo-haters)we have to loos one of the best tv programes in years. i will admit that in season 3&4 i was disapointed but if the network feel the show had hit rock botume then the shuol get new wrighters. i am verry upset because of this news qaf has helped me with my life in so menny ways and i feel it a big lose to all the comming out twinks we need to protes or they could give us a spin off or some thing simerla not the l word

  • Chelsea

    It was a hard moment seeing the whole thing end. they did something wonderful with that show.

  • James

    I must say that QAF has made me such a stronger different person that I was 5 years ago, I’t was the stepping stone to who I am today,I grew so close to all the characters and it saddens me to see them go for I feel the stepping stones they laid for me will not be there for the generations to come and feel somewhat left abandoned with QAF departure, One can only hope that this will only be the tip of the iceburg and that there will be followers to QAF legecy!!!!!!!!

  • I hate to see you guys leave. I loved your shows. But I gues you guys have to move on. You show changed the way that I am. You guys and gals will be missed very much.

  • Jan Lennartsen

    A pal of mine who is from Pittsburgh and an actor[among other things] is not too sad to see the show end, he regards it as a half-decade’s-long bashing of Pittsburgh by Canadian self-interest. After hearing his (at length) remarks I tend to agree that this could be a perception with some validity. Aside from the obvious aspects in outdoor shots which make it clear the show is set in Toronto[flat] rather than Pittsburgh[hilly] [Liberty Ave. in Pittsburgh is about 8 blocks long, in the show it is 8 miles], some egregious writing errors make it clear that nothing is known of the physical geography, the cultural milieu, or the political realities of the supposed locale…and the pro-Canadian slant is rather suspicious for a town [Toronto]whose efforts in luring “runaway production” are hurting the other rival town [Pittsburgh] just 4 hours away[example-the recent Romero movie] especially as the aggrieved town is one of just 4 in the US that have had their city governments address the problem by bringing attention to it.

    After all, it is hard to muster sympathy for people in agony over the cruel oppressive “Proposition 14” when in the state of Pennsylvania there is no initiative & referendum process–certainly not in Pittsburgh, at either the civic/municipal or county level for that matter.

    That such a process exists in California is not an excuse for such stupid transference between two such different states. Although both states are rather progressive…both voted for the losing candidate the past 2 elections.

    But comments about “Susquehanna River Water” for Pittsburgh? The country estate horse-stable home of the 2-to-be-“married” being positioned in West Virginia?!?! Come on!
    Though it had good casting, writing, and acting and high production quality, it just did not have the verisimilitude to make it a great, rather than a good, show. And-now that the mills are gone, they missed out on some spectacular outdoor scenery.

    Jan L.

  • Tonya

    I loved it!!!I want to see more!!

  • Gloria

    What a great start-to-finish review! Thank you so much!! I’ll miss QAF too. There’s nothing to replace it. I own all the DVD’s through the first 1/2 of Season 5. Any idea when the 2nd half will be released for purchase?

  • As of right now, I don’t think Showtime has a DVD release date set for QAF season 5 so I guess we’ll have to wait patiently and see.

  • Me

    Hi all, I’m french and I’m very disgusting, because in France in our channel tv, we have got queer as folk five season not yet …. rrrrrr so we don’t know the final season …
    so I hope really can get the five season in dvd very soon.

  • Philip

    Looks like season 5 is set to be released on DVD on Jan 10th. Still quite a wait.. 🙁

    Pity us poor Brit fans..


  • Glen

    QAF has done a lot of good things for me and for the gay community as well…”reality bites” i should say. it had made me more prouder of myself and a made me stronger person.

    QAF has given us the chance to be heard and to be seen by those people who have always misunderstood us, people who doesn’t want to accept reality. it has given us the voice to say that no matter what happens…. we gays would always be here and forever we will exist!!!!

    and although the final season has come to end… still, the battle for RESPECT and DISCRIMINATION in the real world would always continue for us gays and as for us, i hope that we should remember the real essence of the show, it’s not about drugs, the sex, and the clubbing… it’s more about having “true friends and supportive family” which would accept us for what we are and not because of what other people might think and say. accepting each others weaknessess and being there when it seems that everybody has turned their back on you…. this is what the shows all about.

    i will really miss this guys and they will always be a part of me because they made me realize that weather your a guy or a gal or simply in between…. everybody has it’s own privilege to have a better and normal life…. proud to be one:)

  • j

    friendship, respect, is one thing why i loved 2 see qaf.yup people… i will be missed those character. most of all micheal….he used to be my friend once… i mean there is a person like micheal i have seen in my life… he is dyiing because of an accident…. thanks for bring back the memory… luv u emmete, micheal brian and ted.

  • Shadowfax

    I “asked jeeves” if QAF season 5 had been released on DVD yet, and found your review. Needless to say, I stopped reading pretty quickly — I’m living overseas and my only chance to see the final season will be when it comes out on DVD. I don’t want to spoil my enjoyment (please please let season 5 be better than seasons 3 and 4!), but I did want to ask you and other readers if the final season DVDs have been released? Much appreciate your help!!

  • jazzy

    according to showtimes website it will be release in may, but my preorder through amazon says that it will be released at the end of june.
    they cannot make up their minds. pretty pathetic since the season has been done for numerous months already.


  • Alexis, they didn’t get married, at the last minute the split up and Justin moved to New York.

  • Jazmin

    I was dissappointed with the ending simply because I think back on all the changes Brian was making slowly, and to get that far to simply go back to the beginning again dissappointed me. I mean, he went to his prom, cried for him, punched Michael for him, sold all his stuff to fight against Stockwell, sold his condo, etc… There’s sooo many more that I didn’t mention. But if he went through all that, then they should have shown how one person can truly change you for the better with love. I LOVE QAF though!!!!!!!

    And by the way, (LEATHERBUTCH)the only actual gay people from the show are Randy Harrison (Justin) and Peter Paige (Emmett). They said so on Larry King… 🙂

  • Ez

    always got a hot for this show ^-^

  • purply-blue

    why is season 5 not being shown in UK?

  • Sherri

    Ever a true romantic, I refuse to accept that Justin left at the end. Although I know it happened, I have it on tape and cannot bring myself to watch it. And this is July 2007. I do that with lots of movies & shows, stop when I can’t bear any more. I absolutely cannot watch the end of Legends of the Fall, Gone With the Wind…

  • Vhong – Philippines

    I recently finished the whole 5 seasons of Queer as Folk. And now, I need to accept that it has ended. I felt really sad. It’s like seeing your good friends waving good byes (sigh).
    This series has taught me so many things about life and love, sex and fun, companionship and acceptance.
    This show really made a great impact in my life. I hope, I could still see them (the cast) on other shows.
    To Mark Runyon, thanks for this blog. 🙂 Nice job!
    Vhong – Philippines
    May 2009

  • Mike – Montreal, QC

    Although this post is late I still would like to express my thoughts. I started watching the episodes when they first came up but unfortunately stopped watching. I guess between a busy schedule and their late night shows I wasn’t able to. a couple of months ago I started watching season after season and just finished the last one yesterday. I have to say that I think QAF is a complete revelation to TV. It places so much context and controversy happening towards gays and lesbians right out in the open.

    I have to say that season 5 had to be the biggest ‘Hit’ towards me in regards to the bomb. I am not usually one to let emotions run away with me when watching shows but this one really got to me. It was just so disturbing, I literally sat there with my hand over my mouth and eyes watering just trying to take in what actually happened. I find the 5th season was jam packed with so many topics and life changes; that made it all the more interesting to watch.

    It is too bad that the show had to end because it was such a great way for gays, lesbians, transvestites, etc… to relate to what was going on. The amazing thing about QAF is that it was so realistic, it wasn’t fake, it was unbelievably true…practically every aspect. It included everything that we go through, all the hardships that we have to face, including prostitution, fighting for rights, dealing with threats and being hurt. There are gays and lesbians who focus on sex as a high point, then there are the ones who tend to want to settle down and have a family. Just everything it portrayed was accurate towards all gays and lesbians around the globe.

    The last episode tied the knot well in terms of ending it all. It would have been nice to see Linds and Mel move into their new home. See Justin settle into New York. Even see Hunter get his adoption approved and for them to find out who placed the bomb. Those are just a few, but I guess if they would have went on it probably could have continued into another season which is something they couldn’t do. Overall QAF will always be available for purchase and I recommend that every gay and lesbian in the entire world should see the series. A great focus on modern troubles that may eventually be something to we remember as past issues as we enter into the future. After all, everyday we come closer to getting equal rights worldwide.

  • KKH

    actually, you’re wrong,
    because brian told lindsey and melanie that they could go to canada, but gus stays.
    he said that he didn’t want to teach gus that message: running away from bullies. then, melanie freaked out and brian about how she has always been fighting for her rights.

  • Second Opinion

    On the contrary I believe that Brian and Justin should have gotten married because that’s what the whole show was about. Brian and Justin. Without them getting married it kind of felt like I’d spent five years watching for it to go nowhere. Brian spent most of the show changing for Justin even though he never knew it and you could see him struggling to fight it and the fact that he would give in is proof that he couldn’t fight it anymore. And Justin loved him more than anything in the world. He wouldnt have given that up. He was the one that believed in risking it all. In my best opinion Stuff happened for everyone but the two that should have gotten it all….I still loved the ending and i see your point but I’d have really liked to have seen it end differently.

  • QAF

    In my opinion Justin has always been selfish, he knew what Brian was like from day one and he knew Brian loved him and he said it after he left Ethan, he told Brian that he showed him he loved him everyday and Brian actually gave Justin everything money, support, a home, Justin would be nothing without him. when finally Brian gave him what he wanted he through it back in his face and left him heart broken, but he is the time that would never show it. I really disliked Justin in the final episode.

  • j

    I’m years late and I don’t mean to be pessimistic however I gave this show a chance after so many years. There are of course good points to this show and it does truly tackle issues that the gay community is still facing today though things have changed a little. BUT with that good is the bad and ultimately this show cant be applauded for showing “heterosexual america what gay life is like.” because this was yet another stereotypical representation of gay life. The over emphasis on clubs and drug use….it’s bad enough that hetero culture presents gay men as a bunch of sex crazed men that can’t commit…then this show reinforced that by showing a bunch of sex crazed men that couldn’t commit. It’s bad enough that gay men are synonymous with sex because it’s perceived that that’s all we do…we fuck. And lord behold i’m watching this show and it’s a bunch of sex and random hook-ups. I’m gay but I’ve always been so much more than that. And with a television show about gay men it would be nice to see that represented in a non-biased DIVERSE manner as opposed to this stereotypical show that only expresses one extreme for white men ONLY.