Queer as Folk Review: We Willl Survive

I just finished watching the entire series of this show, and wanted to blog about it. I don’t feel like doing season by season reviews, both because I don’t have the time to do it and because I’ve watched it all in such a short amount of time that I sometimes have trouble remembering what happened in which season. I decided that reviewing the series finale would be the best thing to do, and as I do I’m sure I will mention a lot of what has happened throughout the series as I try to talk about the conclusion to all the show’s storylines.

Seeing as this has been a character driven show, I will attempt to discuss the different character/relationship arcs and how they ended up by the end of the episode:

Emmett and Ted:

Emmett has been one of my favourite characters since the beginning. In a lot of ways he is the flamboyant version of Brian, meaning that he is one of the more promiscuous characters on the show. I like that he is such a strong person who doesn’t take shit from anyone around him, that he is not ok with being treated like he’s worth less than anyone else or with being hidden away like someone’s dirty little secret. I liked that in the last episode we see his and Ted’s friendship be the main focus of their storylines. After Ted’s drug addiction and how that screwed up things between them, it was nice to have them back to their old friendship again, and I was really glad that it didn’t end up (as I suspected for a few minutes) with them going back to being a couple again. It was a fun moment when Emmett ran into someone from his hometown, a place we had been told about many times throughout the series.

Ted was never my favourite character, and for the most part his story has been the one I’ve cared the least about. It’s mostly because he has been handed the more ridiculous storylines, or at least the ones I didn’t care for much. I didn’t like the porn business he started, or the drug phase he had (although that led to one of the most shocking scenes I’ve ever seen in television as he reached rock bottom), and I was not too happy with his plastic surgery plot. However, he has had some good moments, and I am glad that he got a happy ending. It was nice to see everything wrap up by having him run into Blake again, making it seem like they finally had the timing right.

Lindsay and Melanie:

Lindsay and Melanie have been all over the place throughout the series, and I’ve had my struggles watching their story. I haven’t been too happy about everything that happened in the last season, but I am happy about how it all ended. I find it believable that the explosion would push them back together, and I can’t blame them for wanting to get away to Canada. I don’t like that they leave, but I did like that they asked both Michael and Brian for permission to take their children. It was sad to see them go, not only because of the kids, but because Brian and Lindsay have always had one of the sweetest relationships on the show and because Brian had already lost enough. More on that later.

Debbie:

There’s not much to say about her, because she didn’t have much to do in the last episode. However, she has been a somewhat annoying but loveable character throughout the series and it was nice to see her back at work and in a functional relationship with Carl. I liked the scene where Michael is making his speech and points to his mom and friends in the back of the room.

Michael, Ben and Hunter:

Michael is one of my favourite characters, but I’m not sure why. I like that he has a childlike reaction to things he loves and I think he brings a lot of comedy to the show, along with Emmet. It was nice to see that his relationship with Ben lasted through the end of the show, and I was happy that Hunter came back to town before it ended. The scene where they ask to adopt him and he accepts was a very touching moment, and I think the Novotny Bruchner family more than anyone else in the series got everything they wanted. The more important thing in Michael’s ending was his and Brian’s final moments, but I’ll get back to that at the end of the review.

Brian and Justin:

More than anyone on the show, I think Brian and Justin have had the best arcs. It is hard to believe that in the first few episodes of the show I couldn’t stand Justin. In many ways he was just the one night stand that would not go away, and I wanted him to be a character that just gave up eventually. But like Lindsay said when the wedding invitations were received (and I’m paraphrasing here), ‘it goes to show that if you love someone long enough and hard enough’ it will pay off. It goes without saying that I love Justin and Brian’s relationship, but I also love the development of Justin’s character. He was always comfortable with his sexuality, just trying to figure out how to live his life. He went through getting his head bashed in, he managed to let go of his rage when he confronted Chris Hobbes (in another scene that made me cringe) and he managed to develop as an artist so that he could leave for New York and make a living from it.

Just like Justin, Brian has been a very interesting character to follow over five seasons. It was nice to see the ‘love them and leave them’ type of guy handle his relationship with Justin, as well as coming to terms with everyone around him growing up and leaving the club life behind. I think Brian is probably the character with the biggest heart, but who never would be willing to admit it. I believe Gale Harold, the actor who plays him, said that Brian is so concerned with people perceiving him a certain way that he acts as if he doesn’t care in order to ensure they do. I believe he might have a point, and it’s one of the things that are great about his character. He is unapologetically himself, does what he wants to and says what he thinks. When he proposed to Justin I was sure he meant it because he has never done anything he wasn’t fully committed to. There aren’t a lot of characters like this on TV, who don’t make up reasons for being the way they are, and I like that.

The relationship between the two is the longest running one on the show, and in many ways the more functional one in the series. Like I said, I never thought it would be when the show first started, but as the first season went on it became clear that Justin was the one who would be able to handle all of Brian’s personality. I could probably write a long essay about moments that defined their relationship, but I will limit myself to a few. I think the turning point for me was the prom scene when Brian shows up and Justin gets hurt. I think the rehabilitation showed a lot of growth from them both. I was mad at Justin when he left at the end of season 2, but I couldn’t really blame him. However, it was nice that when Ethan cheated on him and accused him of being ok with what Brian did, Justin responded that he never forgave Brian, because Brian never made any promises. That is in many ways why I think their relationship is so strong. It’s like Justin says in the end, they don’t need vows or rings to prove that they love each other.

When the wedding plans started a few episodes before the show would end I was already sure that it wouldn’t happen. However, I love the reasons why it didn’t. Justin said that the closer they got to the wedding, the less Brian was the person he fell in love with, and Brian wouldn’t let Justin miss his opportunity to make it in New York just to be with him. It was really sad to see them say goodbye and end it, but it was the best for both of them. I’m not sure what would happen to them in the future, but there’s no doubt that they cared a lot about each other. I think these kinds of love stories are the saddest ones, when it ends because they are on divergent life trajectories rather than because they don’t love each other anymore.

Brian and Michael:

I think ending the show with a conversation between them in the ruins of Babylon was the best way to end it. You see how broken up Brian is, but Michael tells him ‘you’ll always be young. You’ll always be beautiful. You’re Brian Kinney for fuck’s sake!’, and it leads into them dancing alone as the music starts playing and the club is brought back to its former glory. In the end, Brian is left dancing alone on the platform with Emmet, Ted, Blake, Michael and Ben dancing on the floor. It’s the only way the show could go out, and as much as I wish Justin was there, ending it with Brian on his own felt like the right way to do it.

I was sad to see the show go, and I am not ashamed to say that I was crying a lot when the episode came to an end. I think it’s a shame that there’s not a show like this on TV anymore, but I’m glad that it ended while it was still good. I am neither a gay man nor American, so I can’t tell if this is a realistic portrayal of gay life in Pittsburgh or not. However, I don’t think it matters that much. It’s nice to see that they could make and air a show that shows explicit same-sex intimacy, both sexual and romantic. There are some scenes that really reminded me how unfair the world is, and although it did sometimes take its message a little too seriously, I like that they used the show to show both sides of the issue. The show is predominately about the lives of Brian, Michael, Emmet, Ted and Justin and how they love being who they are, but you do get to see the struggles they go though as well. I’m glad that Russel T. Davies came up with the idea and inspired this show, and I hope that it’s been influential in making some people realise that gay people deserve the same rights as everyone else.

If you have any thoughts on the finale or the show in general, please leave them in the comments!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. powercarol says:

    My 2nd round of combing through 83 episodes and like my 1st round, I cried at the last sex scene between Brian and Justin, I know it’s coming (seen it on YouTube 1,000x) that Justin would disappear off Brian in his bed, but the emptiness strikes me when Brian was on his ever sexy black wife beater tank top and hot jeans smoking and depressed, great timing to allow the emotions sweep through me. Gale Harold did it, that hollow moment in his bed, alone, lost, lonely, it really rips a piece of my heart out, OMG so sad… I wanted it to be happy ending, yet it is not happening… I felt like screaming Noooooooooooo…. but I know I could not control it.

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