Food, drink, film and other random thoughts from The Lone Star State.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hard Candy

Last summer I took a course on the molecular biology of HIV, it was fascinating biology. I was all amped up on HIV research after that class, taking about every opportunity to learn more, still am.

A friend in Houston recommended that I watch a few episodes of Queer As Folk since he felt they dealt with the HIV issue in a unique manner that I would appreciate. I ignored him, the last thing I wanted to do was watch yet another gay-themed showed that perpetuated stereotypes. Then another friend recommended the same, and another and so on. I started renting the series in late 2005. Today I just finished the first episode of the 4th season.

I didn't care for season 2 and 3 but overall I recommend QAF. Let me say up front, its not for everyone. If you are offended by explicit sexuality, foul language and drug use, just walk on by.

My friend in Houston was right. And this is what I have enjoyed about QAF so far.

The show has attacked just about every issue: HIV, substance abuse, depression, loneliness, prostitution, mental illness, gay bashing, same sex marriage, same sex adoption, political corruption and so on. It's not so much the issues but how they present them. Its not with a gentle, gradual delivery nor with artistic, billowy poetry. Its a Japanese bullet train travelling at 300 mph, aimed tap dead center between your eyes.

Lets face it, without Sharon Gless, QAF would not have punch. I think she centers the show with her passionate, over-zealous, slightly neurotic, always interfering, proud to be the mother of a gay son character, Debbie.

Debbie, to me, is the personification of that little voice in our heads, that in most cases, never makes sounds in our throats.

Go ahead take your best shot but I think Peter Paige does a remarkable job at making his character, Emmett, the most believable of the lot. Country-boy gone city, Emmett stumbles through life big-hearted and very emotional, looking puppy-eyed at most situations. While his character could turn drama-queen on a dime he usually tried to find the silver lining.

Randy Harrison is youngest cast member and he's also had one of the most complex characters, Justin, an ever-evolving persona. Randy did a good job at evolving. I didn't like this character in the beginning, finding his actions a little unbelievable for the age he was playing. But over the last few seasons they have presented the character with life experience after life experience, letting the viewer see him overcome adversity and accelerate in maturity. He stands as the lone voice of reason. (I hear this changes in Season 4 but I'm not there yet)

While a lot of the show is fluff and eye-candy, they have addressed some very serious issues with an aggressive, in-your-face style and they've made no apologies for doing so -- gotta love 'em for that.


Blogger NeiLDC said...

i wish i could watch that QAF, anyway i recommend you to watch DANTE'S COVE, yet another good tv series..

1:07 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Thanks Neil.dc, I'll check it out!

3:01 PM

Blogger Sangroncito said...

You've made me want to see the series...I hope it's available at my local gay video rental store.

2:03 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Oh it will be Sangroncito! :)

9:32 PM

Blogger aceian said...

... and they feature good background music too. (especially the ones they used in scenes with sex, desperation, and emotional struggles). i discovered sigur ros, circlesquare, king biscuit time, etc. from watching QAF.

1:20 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Aceian, that is an exellent point. I noticed in season4 they shifted muscially to richer more atmospheric sound. I really liked the swap out of that crazy neo-punk intro for a New Order song.

7:00 AM

Blogger Derek said...

I think I'm going to go out and buy it.

11:26 PM

Blogger Jim said...

Enjoy Derek, the series is really very good. Season 4 starts out with a better intro song too ... a la New Order.

Check out the original British version if you have a chance, it is also very good.

1:19 AM

Anonymous Phil said...

I got Showtime just for Queer As Folk when it started, and it was a great 5-year investment. People have agreed and disagreed with some of the paths the show took, but it was a fantastic run. Enjoy Seasons 4 & 5 - it gets even better!

1:27 AM

Blogger Jim said...

Just finished Disc 2 of season 4 Phil, wow, I was not expecting them to knock off that character. What a crushing emotional blow to Debbie! Not to mention Justin's walk on the very dark side, yikes!

8:13 AM

Anonymous Phil said...

Jim, it's actually pretty cool to see Justin's transformation through the 5 years. I think it really mirrors some people's experience, especially those like Justin who came out and was very idealistic about it, but then when reality swooped in, he's had to deal with the good and bad out there. It's frustrating not to mention all the stuff coming up!! :-) but I won't ruin it for you. Actually I have to start getting them myself and check it out all over again. Do you watch L-Word at all? It's even more woman-centered than QAF was male-centered, but brings up some really strong gay issues as well.

2:08 PM


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