Revisiting Queer As Folk

I’ve wittered loads about how Queer As Folk sparked my desire to move Manchester, the land of the gays. But to be truthful, I hadn’t actually watched it again since it’s initial transmission 16 years ago(!). So when my girlfriend suggested we re-watch both series, I thought yes indeed, it’s time.

To warn you now, I’m going to ignore series two. Not because I didn’t also re-watch series two, I did. But because series one is a brilliant piece of storytelling and it’s best to leave it there.

First up, I need to get something out of the way; I’m not sure what gang of lesbians pissed Russell T Davies off, but they sure as hell made an impression. I was aware back in the day that the depiction of the ladylovers in QAF probably was a bit off, but watching it again, with over a decade’s experience of living in the lesbian world, it’s not exactly the most favourable representation. Also, as my girlfriend rightly pointed out again and again, why on earth would any lesbian in their right mind choose Stuart to father a baby over sweet stable Vince? WHY?

Moving on.

To think that this drama is 16 years old, and omitting the period features of fashion, prehistoric mobile phones and gargantuan computers, it still feels relevant. Russell T Davies is master character crafter and storyteller. Capturing the youthful arrogance of Nathan, and the unravelling psyche of Stuart, on second viewing I realised – bloody hell, the majority of these characters are so unpleasant I want to punch them in the face. And yet I like them. Even when the performances do go a bit MDF. Damn you Davies.

I mean, Nathan for instance, is an attention seeking tit. Lie lie lie, whinge whinge winge. Yet somehow you can’t help but warm to him. He’s just young and excited, bless him. As for Stuart, the performance from Aidan Gillen is rather delightful. Even I can see the appeal of walking STD Stuart. This is all except for sideshow Cameron. We should root for him to be with Vince but nah, he’s a dick. Of course, that’s exactly how Davies wants us to react. Lovely Vince deserved a man who would dote on him and yet the love story is Stuart and Vince. It’s whole bloody point of the show. There’s nowt better than a will-they-won’t-they but you can only drag it out for so long and this is why in my opinion, series two didn’t quite land. I would have rather yearned for another series and not got it. Ending on a high and all that malarky. I fibbed when I said I wouldn’t mention series two.

Anyway, I’ve gotta talk controversy. A mountain of hoo-ha was made at the time about the sex scenes. Indeed they are pretty graphic but gratuitous they are not. It’s interesting watching it as a writer now; the sex in QAF is integral to the storytelling and the characters. If it was about gratuity then every single character would be at it like a hydraulic drill. It’s worth noting that Vince barely has any sort of notable sex scene whereas sex is integral to Stuart’s character, therefore he’s rampant.

Of course the biggest outrage at the time was over 15 year-old Nathan engaged in very saucy homosexual escapades with an adult. I must admit, particularly in today’s climate, it made even me a little uneasy. But it was never portrayed as sordid or the norm for gay men to bed underage boys. The surrounding characters all display their dismay at Stuart bedding a school boy – a fact that Stuart is unaffected by. But in the very first episode Stuart boasts with a grin that he lost virginity to his male P.E teacher aged 12. Eeesh. If that’s not character informing I don’t know what is.

As a side note, it was also all very cute to see Russell T Davies’ Doctor Who fanboy-ness lived out through Vince, years before Davis was chosen to helm the Doctor Who revival which still gets geeks giddy now. Sweet stuff.

But the real winner of Queer As Folk is Canal Street. It’s a magical place is that there Canal Street. It just can’t help but look bloody ace on screen. I’m no scene queen but even on a dreary rainy evening, walking under the sparkly lights of the mystical gay village, I defy anyone not to get the feels.

Also, as whenever those infrequent times Manchester is on the tellybox, it’s fun to do some landmark spotting…

I wonder if that’s Asda Hulme?

Via Fossa hasn’t changed much.

Oh look, McTucky’s!

After all wonderment this and I’m left with that inevitable empty feeling that us gay ladies often feel; when is there going to be something for us lesbians?


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