With the start of Queer as Folk's new season I've discovered or rediscovered a new addiction. While it's still technically true that I don't watch any television, the approximately 42 minuets per week is a very good thing. Kazza is to blame.
I found out about the show during the hiatus, and got my fingers on the lion's share of the episodes and was hooked. There characters are honest, dynamic, and you can sympathize with just about all of them (including, and perhaps especially, Brian), and in a single episode you can both laugh out loud and cry if your inclined. The show will also, if you want it to, make you think seriously about the issues discussed. This isn't the kind of show that you sit, watch, and forget. You get involved. Additionally, because this is a Showtime show, it doesn't have to go through network censors, and it has a much larger production budget than network shows; this allows the producers greater freedom, and the ability to get a better crew and some really impressive actors.
As an artistic work, the show is very precise and planed, and very little is left to chance. The writing is excellent and uses devices that I'm gleefully surprised when I see them used in fine literature. For instance in an episode mid-to-late last season, two characters (Justin and Ethan) were having their first real discussion, and after Justin leaves, we switch to a view to a metronome swinging back and forth as Ethan's fuzzy form resumes his violin playing. An obvious foreshadowing experience and just watch this season to see what happened. I love it when they do things like that: I think it shows that the producers and writers are working to create something more than another hour of television that's only laurels are the cute faces and bare asses of the ensemble lead.
Having said that, Queer as Folk, doesn't shy away from showing sex. But we should say, that in point of fact, it's pretty good about using it artistically and to make a point. It gets to be gratuitous after a while with Brian, but that is the point. It's honest and blatant, qualities that I admire above just about everything else. It is not representative of Gay and Lesbian people everywhere, but it does cover a certain spectrum of the popular culture. I think the show's caught a lot of flack for not being representative, and I suppose it's a problem when there aren't many ëgay' shows around, but forgiving this problem in the production houses, it does a good job at what its trying to do. After all, shows like Sex and the City, Dharma and Greg, and Mad About You (can you tell how long it's been since I've even vaguely followed sitcoms?) aren't exactly representative of the hetrolifestyle but you don't see everyone up in arms about that.
It's some of the most compelling television drama around, because it breaks the mold, because it steps outside of the norm, and in doing so provides a perfect example of how there is really little that separates us as people, despite what separates us legally and culturally. If you get Showtime, check it out, if you don't get Showtime, work something out with your local Kazza provider to get something together. It's not mindless television and unlike a lot of junk that's out there you don't feel like you've just wasted 45 minuets when its done.