Queer as Folk (UK)

A couple months ago, the BF and I borrowed the original UK Queer as Folk from a friend.  We weren’t quite sure what to expect as we’d never seen it, nor the US version.  And the US version went for several seasons, whereas the original from the UK spanned two seasons, for a total of ten episodes, so, again, we weren’t quite sure what to expect.

We loved the first season.  It was a romp through Manchester’s gay village with best friends Stuart and Vince.  Stuart is sort of a power-gay — what he wants, he gets.  (Or, more precisely, who he wants, he gets.)  Vince, on the other hand, is a bit shy and awkward, ending up with slightly off characters and rarely getting laid.  The show opens with Stuart bagging Nathan, the cute new twink to wander through Canal Street.  And, as we soon find out, Nathan is only 15.  Over the course of the first season, there are several storylines, with the most prominent being Nathan getting into the gay scene, Vince trying to get a good lay (and his eventual obtaining of a boyfriend), and Stuart’s manipulativeness.  It’s a little unsettling that you never quite know what Stuart’s intentions are.

I really enjoyed that this book played a little with gay stereotypes and archetypes.  Stuart, Vince, and Nathan are all characters, yes, but they’re also exaggerated slightly to become these archetypes — and their friends and hookups throughout the season are similar — they’re characters, but slightly exaggerated.  (And, of course, there’s the whole amusing conversation over who Stuart’s online hookup, GoodFuck, is… “Who’s he?” “GoodFuck!”)  It reminds me a little bit of my novel, Autumn Fire, as I play a little bit with archetypes through a series of online hookups that my main character undergoes — so it was enjoyable to see how someone else carries that off.

The second season, which was only two episodes long, was a bit different.  It had less of that light-hearted feel to it.  It’s a time of transition — Stuart wants to leave Canal Street, Vince is unsure if he might follow Stuart, and Nathan essentially takes the reigns as the power-gay of Canal Street.  It was okay, but felt rushed.  (The Wikipedia article didn’t indicate if this season was originally intended to be longer, or if it was always meant to be two episodes.)  The whole final twenty minutes or so, I found to be kind of bizarre.  It suddenly went from a real-life-drama into almost a stage-play-on-screen, as Stuart effectively dethrones himself from the power-gay position and passes the duties on to Nathan.  It reminded me of the end of Angels in America, when the actors speak to the viewer — Stuart didn’t speak to the viewer, but the way the scene was produced had the same effect.

So, while I loved the first season, I found the second to be a bit of a disappointment.  There were some truly wonderful moments in season two, but the balance was just a little off.

And, it took me a loooong time to realise that the actor who plays Stuart (Aidan Gillen), the sexually-charged power-gay, is the same actor who plays Littlefinger on Game of Thrones.  I think I had a lot of trouble taking his role seriously when I realised that — but that’s due to his Game of Thrones role, and not at all due to his performance in Queer as Folk.  As well, having just seen the movie Pacific Rim yesterday, it shocked me to realize the main character in that movie is the same actor who plays Nathan (Charlie Hunnam).  I think Hunnam has a fairly decent acting career, as I saw online that he’s in Sons of Anarchy — but having not personally seen that, it was quite a leap to accept that the skinny twink in Queer as Folk is the same guy who plays the very muscular man in Pacific Rim.  (Apparently, Hunnam is also in Children of Men, one of my favourite movies, but I have no idea who he is in there.)

So, yeah, good series, but I think the first season is the best.  🙂

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