Queer As Folk

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Queer As Folk TV Poster Image
Groundbreaking LGBTQ series has lots of heart, sex, drugs.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Relationships and family are major themes. Issues impacting the gay community, including abuse, rejection, HIV/AIDS, single-sex parenting, are discussed throughout.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Some characters are more comfortable with themselves than others, but they are good friends and support each other in their own ways. Debbie is extremely supportive. 

Violence

Some arguing and yelling. Homophobic-driven vandalism and queer bashing a theme; violent attacks occur (no gore). Debbie Novotny consistently whacks Michael on the head. Blood occasionally visible. 

Sex

Strong sexual innuendo, including explicit simulated sex scenes. Bare breasts and buttocks often shown (genitals partially visible). Artificial insemination, promiscuity, and underage sexual relationships are also themes.  

Language

Curses and crude sexual references frequently uttered.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs visibly (and frequently) consumed; addiction a theme. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Queer As Folk (2000-2005) was the first adult TV drama to focus on the gay community. Relationships and family are central themes, and topics like coping with HIV/AIDS, homophobia, and violence against the LGBTQ community are dealt with. It features lots of scenes containing sexual innuendo (including nudity and simulated sex scenes), cursing, drinking, and cigarette smoking. Drug use (legal or otherwise) is common, and addiction is also dealt with. The series is not intended for kids, but mature teens and adults can find some fun in this classic groundbreaking series. 

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What's the story?

QUEER AS FOLK (2000-2005) is a groundbreaking dramatic series that centers on the lives of five gay men living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The American adaptation of the British show of the same name features comic book lover Michael Novotny (Hal Sparks), sexually promiscuous ad exec Brian Kinney (Gale Harold), artist Justin Taylor (Randy Harrison), former Mississippi native Emmett Honeycutt (Peter Paige), and accountant Ted Schmidt (Scott Lowell). When they're not working or hanging out at Babylon, their favorite club, they each focus on their own personal, and often complicated, relationships. These include friends like Lindsay Peterson and Melanie Marcus (played by Thea Gill and Michelle Clunie, respectively); Michael's mom, Debbie (Sharon Gless), a proud and active PFLAG member who serves as the group's matriarch; and later, Ben Bruckner (Robert Gant). From romantic tensions and raising a family to coping with homophobia, violence, and rejection, they try to enjoy life and stay true to themselves while relying on each other to keep going.

Is it any good?

This entertaining, soapy drama was the first hour-long series in the U.S. that centered on the gay community. Storylines about relationship woes, professional conflicts, family tensions, and internal struggles are contextualized within LGBTQ culture. The day-to-day pursuits of the cast reveal some of the many political and social obstacles the community faced at the time, many of which are still being grappled with today.

It's not always particularly well-written (although this improves somewhat in later seasons), and it has its share of campy moments and sexual exploits. Viewers will note how it approaches many of its themes from a decidedly gay male point of view (a fact which led to Showtime's The L Word in 2004). Nonetheless, one can appreciate how Queer As Folk broke the boundaries of mainstream adult dramas, and the important place it has in American television history. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way the LGBTQ community has been featured in the media over the years. What are some of the stereotypes used to characterize members of this community? Has the use of these generalizations reduced over the years?

  • What do you think the long-term impact of Queer As Folk has been on American TV? Are the folks featured on the show good role models?

TV details

For kids who love LGBTQ TV

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