By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 6/9/22 – Trauma and shootings can be difficult to portray on screen, especially during a time period that reckons with the impact mass shootings have on society. The new Peacock series, Queer as Folk, tells the story of a group of queer and trans friends as they navigate a shooting at a local nightclub (reminiscent of the Pulse shooting). The plot loosely follows the story of its American forerunner. Brodie (Devin Way) returns home from dropping out of medical school and reaches out to friends and family (Ryan O’Connell or “Julian”. Some of friends are having children (Jessie James Keitel or “Ruthie,” CG or “Shar”). Others (Johnny Sibilly or “Noah”) are in relationships with each other. Brodie also meets others, such as Mingus (portrayed by Fin Argus), a non-binary coded, high school student that loves drag. Their paths converge at Babylon (a call back to the American series) where a mass shooter opens fire on the bar. The story then focuses on how the characters navigate the aftermath of the shooting. However, compared to the original, Peacock’s treatment of trauma needs to be unpacked.
The main concerning issue of the series is that it forces racial and gendered minorities to deal with trauma in way that its White predecessor(s) didn’t have to. The main shortcoming of Queer as Folk’s American predecessor was that it didn’t feature men of color and that it also omitted trans and nonbinary communities. While this iteration prominently features queer and trans communities and their non-White counterparts, the main premise of the show is that the characters are impacted by a mass shooting. In the last iteration of the show, a terrorist attacks a gay bar, but this occurs in the last season. This allowed most of characters to largely live lives untouched by violence and trauma (other than say one character who was gay bashed). However, in Peacock’s reboot, all of characters, who come from marginalized backgrounds have to navigate the trauma of being at a shooting for the entire season. In essence, even though the show is featuring communities of color, they are not being allowed to exist as people apart from a violent trauma that collectively impacted both the cast and their fictional communities.
Queer as Folk, in its first American iteration, focused on a group of friends that largely lived lives that focused on struggle, but not trauma. However, in the Queer as Folk Reboot, the characters were traumatized and their trauma affected who they were and how they had sex. It’s even more concerning that the characters were largely people of color, and that, while the decision to catalogue the lives of communities who are affected by gun violence is a timely response to our current cultural climate, it is disappointing that the series had to center the show on trauma rather than struggle.