In Peacock’s ‘Queer as Folk,’ Diversity Is Front and Center With Fresh Talent and Perspectives
The groundbreaking LGBTQ+ drama series, “Queer as Folk,” gets a 2022 makeover in a Peacock reboot. This new series is the third iteration of “Queer as Folk,” after a British shpw that ran from 1999-2000 and an American remake that Showtime aired from 2000-2005. Original creator Russell T Davies returns to executive produce this latest installment, which features a whole new cast of rising actors playing diverse characters navigating life, love, sex and friendship in New Orleans, LA.
While the first two series mostly focused on white cis gay men, this new version showcases a variety of perspectives. It is still very sex positive, as we see from the opening scene when the lead, biracial gay man Brodie (Devin Way, who plays a version of characters previously played by Aidan Gillen and Gale Harold) is in the middle of a steamy encounter. In a sign of the changing times, Brodie’s sex partner, in the heat of the moment, orders him to “punish his white ass.” This particular gentleman also has a BLM tattoo on his lower back. There’s allyship and then there’s whatever this is, and Brodie is put off. A recent medical school dropout, he goes to stay with Noah (Johnny Sibilly), his lawyer ex-fiancé. Unbeknownst to him, Noah, whom he left to go to school in Baltimore, is now involved with his close friend, Daddius (Chris Renfro).
Meanwhile, 17-year-old Mingus (Fin Argus) is an aspiring drag performer whose life intersects with Brodie’s after they hook up in the bathroom of club, Babylon, moments before Mingus is slated to give his first performance. His impressive debut, a tribute to Fairuza Balk and “The Craft,” is interrupted by a mass shooting not unlike the real-life one that occured in 2016 at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. Brodie saves Mingus, taking a bullet in the arm in the process. Afterwards, Mingus becomes infatuated with his hero, but Brodie pulls away when he discovers his age. Plus, he still loves Noah, who lets him stay with him. Brodie’s brother socially awkward brother Julian (Ryan O’Connell), who is gay and has cerabral palsey, also moves in, and an interesting love triangle develops, one with a bit of an ick factor, as it involves two siblings wanting the same guy.
Brodie and Mingus have a mutual connection, trans woman Ruthie (Jesse James Keitel), Brodie’s best friend and Mingus’ English teacher. Brodie is also the sperm donor for Ruthie and her non-binary partner, Shar (CG). Shar gives birth to twin babies the night of the Babylon shooting, heightening an already emotionally impactful pilot. Afterwards, Ruthie and Shar navigate being new parents while trying to figure out with Brodie what kind of role he’ll play in the kids’ lives. Davies and his team does not shy away from showing the more frustrating side of parenting babies, most memorably during one scene in which Ruthie tells the tiny duo to “shut the fuck up” during a bout of non-stop crying.
In a departure from the previous two series, none of the main characters are in the closet and they are mostly surrounded by supportive family members, maybe a little too supportive, as both Brodie and Mingus have overbearing mothers. Despite Brodie not being an official parent, his mom Brenda (Kim Cattrall) is eager to be a grandmother to Ruthie and Shar’s twins, which they have mixed feelings about. Meanwhile, Mingus’ single mother Judy (Juliette Lewis), is too extra when it comes to being a cool mom, and she comes off more as an annoying older sister. Perhaps Brodie and Ruthie, along with his new drag mentor Bussey (Armand Fields), can be the ones to provide him guidance and stability.
Like it’s predecessors, Peacock’s “Queer as Folk” does an excellent job of celebrating the importance of community. The shooting and its aftermath leads to some great moments exploring grief and trauma, as well as some more humorous scenes depicting some performative activism. YouTube personality Benito Skinner has a recurring role as Jack Cole Jordan, who seems to be having a little too much of a good time hosting vigils where he’s the center of attention. Finally, the disabled queer community, which includes not only Julian but also double amputee Marvin (Eric Graise), are front and center in a fun subplot involving turning Noah’s house into a handicapped-accessible sex club.
“Queer as Folk” season one begins streaming June 9 on Peacock.