Episode: 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.
Queer as Folk: Season 5 Premiere
For more reviews by this author, please visit PM Media ReviewPowered by Sidelines