When “Queer as Folk” debuted in 2000, the Showtime series was ahead of its time in its portrayal of LGBTQ people on television.
Based on a British series of the same time, “Queer as Folk” continues to resonate among many viewers even though it went off the air in 2005. As Entertainment Weekly noted in its LGBTQ issue last month, the show ― which starred Gale Harold, Randy Harrison and Hal Sparks as a trio of gay men living in Pittsburgh ― has enjoyed a second life among younger, binge-watching audiences on streaming services.
In the latest installment of his “Culture Cruise” video series, Seattle-based writer Matt Baume breaks down a 2002 “Queer as Folk” episode simply titled “Pride” in an effort to determine whether the narrative would hold up following the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ-related social strides.
As Baume discovers, many components still strike a chord. One plotline, for instance, seems to anticipate the ongoing debate over the so-called “corporatization of Pride” ― that is, the increasingly visible presence of consumer and retail brands at Pride parades and other queer-themed festivities.
On the flip side, Baume points out that few people of color are represented throughout the episode, while the transgender community isn’t referenced at all. Then, there’s one scene in which the character of Michael (Sparks) gives an unsuspecting co-worker an open-mouthed kiss without consent ― a now-jarring moment in the wake of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements.
“Through various intertwined stories, the show asks questions about Pride that the queer community is still grappling with today,” Baume told HuffPost. While the series was “able to foresee the issues we’d be grappling with today,” he added, “It’s amazing what the show completely missed.”
Watch Baume’s entire episode of “Culture Cruise” above.