Patrick R. (patrick) from SANTA FE, NM Reviewed on 3/30/2010...
Very good series that happens to be well written for the most part. Recommend to broadminded viewers who happen to be gay or gay friendly.
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Outstanding Cutting Edge Series on a Great DVD Collection
turtlex | PA USA | 01/15/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Queer As Folk - The Complete First Season - Collector's Edition DVD Boxed Set.
A Showtime Original Series.This is an excellent original series featured on an outstanding DVD collection. I'll give you my condensed version: I enjoyed it a great deal. The acting is good, the stories are engaging and the characters seem real. I'm recommending it without reservation.First, the packaging of this set is top of the line. The six-disc collection is a double-sided fold-in design. Each disc is colored with one of the rainbow pride colors-a very nice, and unexpected, touch. Also featured with this box set-a nice little rainbow pride disc place marker-it's a six-colored rainbow ribbon. Before I get into my opinions, let me say that the discs themselves, quality wise, are outstanding. I watched every last minute of the six disc set, including the special episode editions and bonus material and had flawless picture and sound throughout. Yes, I did enjoy the series. I had never seen a single scene of Queer As Folk (QAF) before I got this DVD. That's not to say I hadn't heard about it, because I had. I've read a great deal about it: the sex, the drugs, the language, the lesbian bashing, etc. What I found, upon watching it myself, was that I liked the stories and I liked the characters. It's always difficult to forget what you've read when approaching a television series like this but I did my best to just approach it with my own personal life experiences as a guide. To address the mini-points mentioned above: There's sex and a whole lot of it. Much of it anonymous and much of it graphic. All of it gay/lesbian. Was I offended? No, not at all. As a matter of fact, the shear volume of sex actually makes it less shocking. The sex depicted in the series is not there to titillate (though it probably does); it's there simply as part of a story, part of the lives of these characters. Having watched the discs in long multi-hour blocks, it actually became a little numbing, though not to say uninteresting.There's drugs and a lot of them. They're taken frequently and unapologetically. Again, they're presented as part of the story. Was I offended? Not at all. They're not preachy about what they're presenting and not every character takes illicit drugs. "the language"-Actually this is where I get a little prudish (surprised it's with the language and not the sex?) because the mouths on these folks are trashy. I thought all the foul language was a little over the top. "the lesbian-bashing"-A little explanation here. Quite a bit of press has been dedicated to the idea that the lesbian couple in the series is verbally derided and "bashed" by the gay male characters. I was a little worried about this, being a lesbian myself. I was a little weary of it because after one episode, I was really enjoying the series and didn't want to get offended as things went on. I found though, that I was more than 10 hours into the series when I realized that I hadn't been offended yet, not in the least. There's some name-calling, some use of words I'm not particularly thrilled with, but much of the name calling, was done in jest. I didn't find it offensive or at all "mean spirited" and I was looking for it. The one time a particularly graphic word is used in a negative and angry way, it is used by one of the lesbian characters.The writer's have done a wonderful job with giving these characters expansive and full lives. These episodes deal with issues and problems:age of consent (by ignoring it), drug use (by using them), safe sex (by having it), lesbian moms (by portraying it), conversion groups (by lampooning them), school outings (by portraying them realistically), hate (by living through it), family dedication and confusion (by showing the impact of being yourself), excessive drug use (by showing the consequences). I defy you to name another series which tackles these issues. It does not feel forced; these are issues that these characters deal with. One complaint I've heard is that the "girls" have so little screen time. I'll remind everyone that there is a five man to two woman ratio so it's reasonable that the guys will be on screen more often. I'm just thrilled to have a lesbian couple featured at all. The fact that we get so much from them, with so little screen time, is a great indication of the fine writing and acting that we see here. For those wondering-we do get one sex scene between Melanie and Lindsay-its in episode 9.Quick comment on the season finale- This is the most amazing episode. It is incredibly moving and romantic and terrifying. I don't want to give away too much, but it was well written and well acted. You will be moved. On the believability scale-I'd give this series an "A.The discs-some information on the discs themselves and they way they are set up. Each disc contains 3 or 4 episodes. On each disc are six chapters you can use for scene access. Featured are each episodes "next on" promo-a feature which I liked a lot and which I was surprised to find. Each episode also contains a small summary of what the episode is about. On disc1, disc 3 and disc 5 are "special edition episodes" which repeat a specific episode with commentary by the cast and producers. These are fun to watch and it's always great to hear the actor talk about the character they are portraying. These cannot, though, be watched INSTEAD of the episodes. They are strictly extra viewing. Episode 1, episode 11 and episode 18 are given this special treatment.Disc 6 contains the last three episodes (20-22) and a great collection of bonus features listed in the Amazon page."
A watershed in American TV drama
Libretio | 01/30/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
QUEER AS FOLK: Season One
(USA - 2000/2001)
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 TV soundtrack: Stereo
"The thing you need to know is, it's all about sex."
That's the first line of dialogue, spoken in voiceover at the beginning of "Queer as Folk", a sprawling, impressively realized drama about the lives of several working-class gay men living in Pittsburgh at the turn of the 21st century. And, indeed, this 22-episode series - based on the British original which ran for eight episodes in 1999 before spawning a brief sequel the following year - presents a visual celebration of gay sex in all its forms, launching headfirst into NC-17 territory with unapologetic abandon. Some parts are raunchy and liberating, while others are soulless and ugly, yet the script never preaches or condemns, merely observes without judgment.
Using the narrative template established by writer Russell T. Davies in the UK version, many of QAF's initial episodes will be familiar to anyone who's already seen the original - same characters and situations, same dramatic arc - but it eventually finds its own feet, employing a defiantly American approach in terms of mood and execution, whilst remaining true to the spirit of Davies' initial concept. As might be expected, the show touches on a variety of pressing social issues including HIV and AIDS, homophobia and ex-gay ministries, whilst also confronting some ugly home truths, most notably the casual (and not-so-casual) drug use which enhances some people's lives whilst ruining others. This is ambitious, warts-and-all stuff, portrayed with integrity and passion.
Much of the show's success is due principally to the casting of Gale Harold, making a staggeringly assured screen debut as ultra-sexy Brian Kinney, an elemental force of nature whose actions and reactions inform the lives of virtually every other character in the show. A sexual predator by nature, his cold-hearted vanity and selfish bravado may seem a little obnoxious at first, but this incredibly complex character - terrified of growing older and turning into his overbearing father - is eventually exposed as a decent, loving man whose withering cynicism ("There's only two kinds of straight people in this world - the ones that hate you to your face, and the ones that hate you behind your back") masks a soul in crisis. How appropriate that the first season should end on a closeup of his beautiful face, the mask completely (albeit forcibly) removed.
Other stand-outs in an exceptional cast include comedian Hal Sparks as Brian's lovable best friend Michael, the indomitable Sharon ("I love my gay son!") Gless as Sparks' over-the-top mom Debbie, and Michelle Clunie as Melanie, a no-nonsense lawyer whose hostility towards Brian allows plenty of room for dramatic conflict (Clunie and Thea Gill play a loving couple whose lives are central to the proceedings, unlike the British original where the female characters seemed almost surplus to requirements). Scott Lowell (Ted) and Peter Paige (Emmett) complete the core group, which is bolstered by the arrival of 17 year old Justin (played by the astonishingly young-looking 23 year old, Randy Harrison), coming out of the closet with a vengeance while his worried mom (Sherry Miller) hovers on the sidelines, maintaining an anxious vigil. Along with Gale Harold, Harrison is involved in some of the show's most graphic sex scenes, and both actors display a level of bravery and commitment that goes way beyond the call of duty. Hats off to both of them.
Look out for a wealth of memorable scenes and set-pieces, such as the hilarious whirlwind romance between Emmett and his 'soulmate' which crams a lifetime of gay cliches into a two-hour relationship (!); Brian coming out to his father (a powerful cameo by experienced character actor Lawrence Dane); Melanie's reaction to a bigoted nurse during a moment of crisis; Debbie's jaw-dropping description of Brie cheese (!); and Justin becoming, shall we say, REALLY acquainted with handsome young football jock Chris Hobbs (a small but hugely significant role, played by Alec McClure) in the school's athletic room... All gay life is here, as the old saying goes.
To the accompaniment of a thumping musical soundtrack, the season culminates in a deeply moving season finale (directed by Alex Chapple), which contains the show's most outstanding scene of all, a glorious, life-affirming sequence in which most of Justin's hopes and dreams are realized at the school prom, set to the haunting, melancholy strains of Ben E. King's classic, 'Save the Last Dance for Me'. Which, of course, leaves us totally unprepared for the devastation that follows...
Afterwards, during the show's closing moments, the audience is abruptly reminded of the fragile humanity which underpins these extraordinary characters, and how much they've captured our hearts. In the end, as raunchy as it is, the show isn't really about sex at all - it's about PEOPLE, and the way our lives are defined by our relationships with family and loved ones. This episode, more than any other, amounts to a near-perfect combination of music, character development and dramatic action, and is without question the most heartbreaking hour of television this reviewer has ever seen.
Though prompted by its excellent British counterpart, the US version of QAF is arguably one of the most significant events in the history of gay film and television in America because, crucially, it's financed and exhibited from within the mainstream arena. It isn't low-budget and marginalized - it's empowering, intelligent and uproariously funny, and it's in-your-face like nothing you've ever seen on TV before. After this, the representation of gay people in American art can never be the same again, because QAF has set the standard against which all future offerings must surely be measured. Absolutely magnificent. "
I really did NOT want to like this show.
Michael T. Rognlien | Chicago, IL USA | 03/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Let's face it - gays in television are stereotyped. Jack, on Will & Grace, is what I'd imagine many people in straight America envision gay men to be - queeny, vapid, self-obsessed and sexually compulsive.. yet in a very G-rated way.I originally bought the British version of QAF (series 1) and while I enjoyed it, it lacked a certain believability for me, possibly because of the various cultural differences and overall attitude towards homosexuality in Europe.The American version, however, I held off on purchasing, mainly because I didn't want to be fed 22 hours of stereotypes of gay men and lesbians that had absolutely no reflection of my personal experience.Indeed, the first couple of episodes turned me off - cliche, sex-obsessed, and bitter overtones were almost too much to get past, but fortunately, I did.The remaining 19-20 episodes of season one, in many ways, hit very close to home. Set in a real-ish city (P'burg), I felt immediately that the characters were in a "real" setting, unlike the world of Ross, Rachel and the gang in "Friends" - although the characters, at first blush, seemed to be slices of gay male stereotypes we've all seen before. The beauty of this show is the extensive character development, and the patience required of the audience to let their individual characteristics sink in.Justin's childish infatuation with Brian grew from highly annoying to palpable and real; the various love triangles (Michael and Brian, Ted and Michael, Brian and nobody) became plausible. The issues in the relationships were real without being patronizing (commitment-phobia, drugs, unfaithfulness, etc) and developed WELL beyond the fleeting banality of the 30-minute relationships we're given via the girls on Sex in the City.All in all, I was won over completely - and the finale of episode 22 even convinced me that Brian, the character I hated the most of all, was, deep down, likeable and even plausible. The beauty of the range of characters here is that there's a part (or parts) of each of them that to some degree reflect the realities of what it's like to be a gay man in the new millenium.This is indeed groundbreaking television, though not because of the rather graphic sexuality it depicts, but because, for the first time (in my opinion), gay life is examined for ALL things - not just the drama and the materialism, but for the difficulty of balancing the unique social constructs of life in a straight world with the sometimes life-altering (and even life-saving) friendships and relationships that make for a truly diverse community. Cheers to the Americans for finally getting one right (and to Showtime for having the guts to make it happen)!"
A honest, cutting edge show given the deluxe DVD treatment
Dave Beards | Sydney Australia | 12/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I distinctly remember my elation when I first viewed the original UK version of Queer As Folk'. For one of the first times, our lives were the storylines and we were being shown in an honest way - just as human beings living our lives the best way we know how. Sometimes brutally honest though - some of the subject matter even made me cringe! But it was positive as the stereotypical views of the gay man and woman were being challenged.Then news started filtering out that the US were planning on making their own version of QAF. Alot of people, me included, were very sceptical about this. The US doesn't have a high success rate when taking a successful UK format and developing it for US audiences.So when the first season on Showtime's Queer As Folk began airing in Australia in June 2002, I didn't have the elation that I felt with the UK version. And when I actually began watching the first episode, I was appalled. I thought 'this is one bad show'. Obviously being a fan of the UK version, the characters, actors and settings were fresh in my mind and it was natural to compare. And the US version came off a very poor second. But I continued watching, as I was advised by a friend that it gets better. After the first 3 episodes, my opinion hadn't changed. The storylines were almost identical to the UK version, even some of the dialogue was identical. But then something happened. The original UK storylines were diverged and new ones added and it started to become a whole new show. Where the UK version finished,the characters were developed within such wonderful, honest sotrylines that I also became elated at this version of Queer As Folk. So persistance does pay.What can I say about the US s1 Queer As Folk that hasn't been said before? Not everyone likes the show. Obviously due to the content and graphic nature, it will offend people. Even some gay people are appalled by the show. But personally I love it. It depicts a group of gay men and women living their lives, making choices - not always the right choices, but dealing with the consequences. In other words, the characters are more human because they are flawed, just like every human being in this world. The content can be graphic, and sometimes offensive (even to gays),as the lifestyle can be shown in it's most brutally honest way. I also appreciate how the principle cast aren't the usual 'classic' gay looking men you see in magazine shoots - neither beefed up muscle men or nancy queens, but ordinary, everyday gays who in their own way are just as physically beautiful as what is depicted in the media. Now onto the DVD - it amazes me how the actual DVD and the special features hardly get a mention in reviews. Afterall, that's why alot of people buy DVD's!!!! Well, the QAF DVD doesn't disappoint. It is wonderfully packaged in a fold out case with stunning photography of the cast adorning the sleek design. The special features are wonderful - you can tell that considerable effort was made to offer something extra special to fans of the show.Firstly there are three 'special edition' episodes. Here 'special edition' means the episode with an audio commentary. But the presentation of the commentary is very unique. When one of the actors or producers comments an what's happening on screen, the screen splits in 2 with the scene on one side and the actor/producer shown on the other. A wonderful idea, and one which works brilliantly. Often with commentaries that have many people speaking, it is sometimes hard to tell who is speaking. But here, there is no such problem and it is a joy to watch their expression as they describe their work .Many facinating facts are divulged here also.Next there is the'bonus features' section on disc 6. Contained here are deleted scenes - all introduced by Hal Sparks who gives indication as to why the scene wasn't used. Hal is a very funny guy who never seems to take himself seriously, and it is very entertaining to watch him 'be himself'. Then comes the 'outtakes' - mainly actors bursting into fits of laughter and fluffing their lines, but nonetheless it's hilarious!!!! Only several minutes long though - in my opinion outtakes are the best feature of any DVD so more is always better! Following on is the section dealing with 'meeting' the characters, actors and executive producers. Mainly written screens of text, but all very readable and entertaining. There is a link to a short video for each actor/producer and whilst these are interesting, they are far too short. Still this section is highly entertaining and gives some extra facts on the characters that you may not know.The rest of the bonus features comprise trailers and 'sneek peeks' for upcoming seasons. These can be interesting to overseas viewers to see how the show is promoted on air in the US. A moving picture gallery set to music rounds out the extras here (there is also a DVD rom link, but I was unable to access it).What a wonderful world it is when there is technology like DVD available where we can not only own our favourite TV show to watch whenever and as many times as we like, but also get to explore behind the scenes with (hopefully) a good set of bonus features. Queer As Folk may be too 'far out' to ever be nominated for mainstream awards, and it may be a low budget show on cable that is mainly of interest to gays', but everyone who works on this show should be extremely proud for making such a cutting edge, brutally honest view of the gay world."
Annalisa | 11/16/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a part of that interesting group of straight women who absolutely adores this show. Why, you may ask? Besides being completely fascinated by the whole gay cinema genre, I love this show because it is well-written, the characters are great and the stories are interesting and entertaining. It makes absoutely no excuses for the way the characters live, for the nature of the show and for the themes. Also, from a purely filmmaking point of view, the camera angles and photographic choices made in this show are fascinating. The rather graphic parts of this show do take some getting used to, but if you have an open mind and give it a chance, you will become hooked! I think it's fabulous that our television is taking these sort of risks... Check this show out, you will be shocked and first and then surprised by how entertained you can be..."