EntertainmentThe cult gay series, a milestone in gay visibility...

The cult gay series, a milestone in gay visibility on the screen, is to be rediscovered on Arte.tv

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Queer as Folk just joined “Love, etc.” », The collection of original series (House of Cards, We are not dead, Source…) Available free of charge on Arte.tv. The opportunity to (re) discover this British fiction which, in barely ten episodes, marked a turning point in the history of TV series. Explanations.

We have to go back to a time that the under 20s cannot know. When Queer As Folk hit the air in 1999, it is the first time that a bunch of gay friends have featured in a series and that the script has focused on what they are going through. Until then, the rare gay characters who had the right of citizenship on television were condemned to suffering or to caricature, summoned to make pity or to amuse the gallery. In the vast majority of cases, their sex life was non-existent. A series giving a realistic representation of the daily life of young homos, it was unheard of.

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And that was what Russell T. Davies, the creator of the series, 36 years old at the time, wanted to see. “Gay characters started to appear in the 1990s, like Tony and Simon in [le soap] EastEnders. But I didn’t like these characters. I’m glad they existed, but [me sentir représenté à l’écran], that’s really part of why I wrote Queer as Folk », He confided at the beginning of the year to the magazine Attitude.

Identification

The gay public could now identify particularly with Nathan (Charlie Hunnam, future star of Son of Anarchy), 15, venturing a bit intimidated into Canal Street, Manchester’s gay district. Or to Stuart (Aidan Gillen, the Petyr Baelish of Game of Thrones), arrogant seducer of 29 years. Unless he recognizes himself in the more discreet Vince, who has not come out at work and must give the change. Romey and Lisa, a lesbian couple, are (unfortunately) confined to secondary roles.

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That the under 20s will not imagine that the rainbow parade upset the French hertzian waves: if, across the Channel, the series was broadcast after 10:30 p.m. on Channel 4, in France, it was on Canal +, in encrypted form. It is mainly thanks to its video editions and the resonance of its American remake – which we will discuss a little later – a few years later, that it achieved cult status. Hence the interest in (re) discovering it.

A voluntary “forgetfulness”

In two seasons of ten episodes in total (eight for the first, two for the second), Queer as Folk speaks with humor and without prudery of love, sex, friendship, but also of homophobia, discrimination and homoparentality. However, the subject of HIV is not addressed there. Voluntarily. “The gay press was furious because we weren’t showing condoms, warnings or other messages on the screen. At that time, in 1999, I refused to let our lives be defined by illness. So I deliberately excluded it. The omission of AIDS was a stand in itself, and it was the right thing to do, ”Russell T. Davies explained to the
Guardian in January. He will have waited twenty years to feel at ease tackling the “AIDS years” face-to-face with
It’s a Sin, one of the best mini-series of the year – available on myCanal.

In the meantime, the screenwriter has delivered other milestones of LGBT representation on the screen, which the themes related to sexual orientation occupy the foreground (Cucumber, Banana and Tofu in 2015) or that they appear in sub-plots (the bisexuality of Jack Harkness, the hero of Torchwood ; dystopia gay couples Years and Years…). The success across the Channel of Queer as Folk also allowed Russell T. Davies to relaunch, in 2005, the cult series Doctor Who, of which he let go in 2009. We can also have fun seeing in Queer as Folk the character of Vince fan of the alien hero who can change his appearance and travel in time.

Queer as Folk goes through the decades in its own way, transforming itself. She was treated to an American remake that relocated the action to Pittsburgh and significantly developed the original material from which she gradually moved away. The show has 83 episodes spread over 5 seasons between 2000 and 2005. A reboot is in the works for the American channel Peacock. Eight episodes have been ordered and Russell T. Davies will serve as executive producer. TO Stubborn, the latter said that it would take “a more inclusive cast” and “incorporate the trans experience.” The importance of representation, always.

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