Finally comes the time for the fifth and final post of my Queer as Folk Review collection. I have let this final part sit as I focused on other things but it is time to come back to it and finish this show. In the fifth part to my collection of posts, I will be talking about the events of Series 5; the journeys of the main characters as a whole throughout the five series; the effects of the bombing in Episode 10 on the characters and where each of them are at the end of the show. I have also included a list of some of my favourite quotes from across the series.
Please do not read this post if you are under 18 as the programme discussed is explicit in nature. If you do not want to read about a show featuring graphic adult content, stop now.
Analysis of Events in Series 5
At the beginning of the series, we find several of the characters at a crossroads. Those in relationships are suffering from miscommunication and those not are finding difficulties in being unattached. We see Brian convincing himself he doesn’t need Justin anymore. He thinks Justin has moved on to the greener pastures of La la land. Justin himself sees through Brian’s ruse but doesn’t feel he can tell Brian that he loves him. Mel and Lindsay are no longer living together but have not told anyone for the sake of JR. Debbie and Carl have difficulties with where to start their life together. Ben wants to move to a gentrified neighbourhood but Michael doesn’t want to move away. Emmett needs his own space but doesn’t want to be alone and Ted has been putting on weight with comfort eating.
There is a foreshadowing to later events such as Michael suggesting Brian buy a house in the country, Brian picks Babylon over married life. After a sex montage, Brian in an achingly romantic gesture (for him anyway) shows the empty drawer he has ready for Justin after Justin asks to move in again. This indicates a growth for Brian’s character and a turning point for Brian and Justin’s relationship after some time apart.
The main plot of the final series centres around a new law that Congress want to pass called Proposition 14. It would limit the rights of gay individuals by making it illegal for them to adopt children, buy a house together, have joint bank accounts and claim domestic partner insurance. Justin confronts his father again and protests outside his father’s shop. This leads to him getting arrested. The characters go campaigning door to door and hold a benefit which is where the bomb explodes.
The characters all begin to grow up and move to the suburbs or consider more healthy relationships. We see a new side of gay life away from the club scene and constant cruising. Many of the couples now want children, a house, steady jobs and quieter lives in other gay neighbourhoods. This follows the pattern of life for all people who start to want different things as they grow older and wiser. That is except for Brian who is afraid to grow old and commit to Justin lest he become undesirable or bored. Due to his traumatic and abusive childhood, he craves the attention of others, usually countless men, Michael or Lindsay. When both are pulling away he tries to rely more on Justin and Ted but he is unable to fully give himself to Justin due to his fear of no longer being wanted and of rejection. Despite being funny, caring, smart and successful, Brian bases his self-worth on his looks as that is what makes him popular in the gay community.
We see the bombing first as a reflection of light on the character’s faces – Michael, Ted, Ben then we move to Debbie walking down the street and move to Brian in the car and get the full news story. Approaching the scene, we understand events through Brian’s point of view. He was the most removed from the situation out of all the characters as he was not planning to attend the event like the others. This makes for maximum impact as he struggles to comprehend what has happened and if his friends are alright.
Finding Justin’s mother first shows his desperation to find Justin but he also genuinely cares for her. Running inside calling Justin’s name shows that Brian does care about him and in a wider context, the gay community. If he were truly heartless, he would have carried on to the airport but as demonstrated from Brian almost bankrupting himself to letting Justin live with him to organising Ben and Michael’s wedding and Melanie and Lindsay’s; he does actually care but due to his abusive childhood and emotionally neglectful family, he struggles to show it on a more personal level without a crisis.
The scene between Debbie and Brian in the hospital chapel highlights their own faiths as Brian was also raised Catholic. It shows how two people who disagree with their religion’s outlook towards their community and other aspects still turned to that room for support. Brian, of course may have followed Debbie or simply gone to a quiet place to process but I believe he chose the chapel for a reason. Both Debbie and Brian turn to God to help Michael even when they have never particularly prayed or asked for anything from him in the past.
Effects of the Bombing on the characters
Brian admits finally to Justin that he loves him. This has been the biggest obstacle of their relationship for five years as Justin always wanted more than Brian was able to give. Despite Michael and Brian’s falling out, Brian shows his love for Michael at the hospital and with Debbie. Brian’s fears are shown with a funeral that starts off as Michael’s but ends as his own. However when he reached Babylon, he was first most concerned about Justin, showing that someone else finally replaced Michael as the man he cares about most. Romantic love takes precedent over friendship love. Brian then decides to make changes in his life. He sells the loft and Babylon and buys Justin a country manor house that he mentions wanting earlier in the series. He tries to become monogamous and devoted to Justin which surprises all the other characters. He also vows to be a better father to Gus who is now almost five years old.
Ted struggles to face Michael at the hospital as he blames himself for Michael being at the bar in the bombing. He throws himself into work but eventually sees Michael. After a talk with a stranger at the baths, he realises that he was not the cause of Michael’s injury.
Ben tries to carry on and not let Debbie take over. He goes back to teaching but cannot ignore his student’s pleas to discuss the events. He also becomes angry at the vigil and it takes Brian to calm him down. When Hunter makes an appearance once again, having come back after watching the news, Ben is happy after feeling lost when Hunter left.
Debbie becomes overly motherly and is with Michael all the time at the hospital. The effects of losing Vic are still very raw for her and Michael is the only family apart from Carl that she has left.
Emmett can’t get off the couch and suffers from PTSD. Drew tries to help him get back to normal but it takes a harrowing story from Carl about his earl days in the police force and Drew’s agreeing to speak at the vigil that gets Emmett out of the house.
Justin appears alright having dealt with trauma before and paints in his apartment. He initially laughs off Brian’s proposal. After years of trying t get Brian to think of them as something more, he can’t believe that Brian would change. After some corralling, Justin accepts Brian’s offer but cannot stay when he sees Brian changing into a different person. He does not want either of them to compromise their personalities or lives to be happy together.
Lindsay and Melanie come back together and realise their love for each other. After the death of their close friend, Dusty at the bombing they realise how they have to cherish their family. Mel becomes scared for the future and what will happen if Proposition 14 passes. They decide to move to Toronto for better rights as lesbian women.
Brian is influenced by Justin to not give his blessing to take Gus to Toronto and Michael is influenced by Hunter to give his blessing. Brian is influenced by Lindsay and Melanie to make Justin go to New York.
Everyone just wants to be with the people they love i.e. Melanie and Lindsay, Brian and Justin, Carl and Debbie, Drew and Emmett, Jennifer and Tuc, Michael and Ben.
Characters’ Journeys over the whole 5 Series‘
Michael starts off as the practically virginal inexperienced one who struggles to attract partners. He has two serious long-term relationships and moves into a life that he wants: a job running his favourite comic book store; a husband and kids. He becomes mature and responsible and a great friend. His priorities shift from Brian to Ben as Michael realises that Ben can give him the life he wants and Brian is stuck as a playboy in the clubs. Michael gradually gains his own interests away from Brian and does not let Brian sway him from being a kind and gentle soul.
Brian forms long-lasting friendships and a relationship with Justin. His peak romantic side is in Series 1 but Justin’s attack made him distance himself from his emotions. He blamed himself for the attack after turning up for Justin’s prom. They come back together but after their break up at the end of Series 2, Brian realises that he cannot give his full self to Justin for fear of rejection. Brian gradually starts to see love not as a weapon or something to be afraid of. He becomes a better father to Gus or at least more present and a better partner to Justin. He starts his own advertising agency, Kinnetic when his values are challenged and is fired. He also buys Babylon in an attempt to keep his friends at his stage in life. He fights for gay rights by taking down Stockwell, riding in the Liberty Ride and donating Babylon as the venue for several fundraisers. He tries to change his playboy ways for Justin.
Justin eventually understands that Brian is not going to immediately love him. He finds friends who understand him and forms a good relationship with his mother. He harnesses his talents as an artist and gets into a prestigious art college. He overcomes being seriously injured at the end of Series 1 and the challenges that come along with this. He forms a closer bond with Brian and has the courage to leave their relationship for something new. He moves to LA at the beginning of the fifth series to work on a film version of Rage. In the final episode, Justin figures out that he cannot trap Brian into a life he doesn’t want and has the strength to pursue his career over Brian.
Ted fights his crystal meth addiction at rehab and with the help of his friends and Blake. He has several different jobs such as accountant, adult website manager, singing waiter and success but falls into a depression. He has a few relationships and reconnects with Blake several times. Due to his self-esteem issues, Ted has plastic surgery to help love himself. He gets a job working for Brian and finds passion as an accountant and supervisor at Kinnetic.
Emmett has a string of casual relationships until Ted. He also finds a meaningful connection with Drew. He entertains a few careers such as retail, domestic help, adult entertainer but settles on event planner. He lives with Michael then Ted and finally Debbie and Carl. In the first series after a HIV scare, he joins a conversion therapy group and connects with a woman but they decided to be true to themselves.
Debbie constantly fights for gay rights and always stands up for her beliefs including at Justin’s school, against Stockwell and Proposition 14. She finds love with Carl and they move in together. She nurtures the men into accepting themselves and finding their place in the world. She often acts as a surrogate mother to Brian and takes Justin under her wing when his own father forbids his lifestyle.
Ben finds love with Michael and slowly comes to terms with his HIV status. He fights to keep Hunter as a foster son and make sure he is alright. After Hunter leaves town, Ben becomes depressed. He has Michael and the gang but not any of his own family. A student makes a play for him and he writes a book that gets rejected everywhere.
Melanie works hard as a lawyer and despite having a baby with Lindsay has an affair in the first series. She becomes a mother to Gus and JR. During her pregnancy, she has to stay on bed rest and this causes a lot of friction and subsequent breakup between her and Lindsay. She is always passionate for her rights and speaks of her grandfather who knew to leave Germany as a Jewish man in the 1930s.
Lindsay becomes a mother in the first episode. She initially leaves her teaching job at the university to be a stay at home mother but goes back to work at a gallery in Series 3. She almost marries a gay Frenchman in Series 1 as he needs a visa but after some serious intervention from Brian, she comes to her senses. In Series 4, she has an affair with a man, an artist having a show in her gallery. She then moves out with Gus to a small apartment and then into her parents house until she realises that they want her to be straight. Despite her affair with Sam and mentions of being with Brian in college, Lindsay does not identify as anything other than lesbian.
The End of the Series
Brian goes back to the club and reopens Babylon; Michael has Ben and they adopt Hunter. He lets JR go with Melanie and Lindsay to Toronto. Michael begins the last episode with a voice over like the first episode. A full circle moment. He still hangs out with Brian at the club. Justin leaves Brian and Pittsburgh to pursue art in New York; Ted ends up with Blake and is happy in his job at Kinnetic; Emmett lets Drew go and is happy with himself; Debbie is happy with Carl and Lindsay and Melanie move with Gus and JR to Toronto.
List of Favourite Quotes
- “I’ve just seen the face of God. His name is Brian Kinney.” – Justin – 1×01
- “If you don’t earn respect when you’re alive, you don’t deserve it when you’re dead.” – Brian – 1×19
- “You’re Brian Kinney, for fuck’s sake!” – Michael – 1×22
- “I’d run away screaming but its been a long day.” – Brian – 2×03
- “Yeah, like I give a shit what God thinks about me. He’d better be worried what I think about him.” – Brian; “How do you figure that?” – Michael; “Well, in all this cold dead universe, we’re the only ones who know he exists, without us he’s nothing.” – Brian – 2×09
- “Have some balls.” – Brian – 3×08
- “Don’t be nervous.” – Lindsay; “If my heart rate was any lower, I’d be dead.” – Brian – 2×13
- “It’s the most historic reunification since Germany.” – Ben – 3×09
- “He has a boyfriend!” – Michael; “You do?” – Hunter; “In a non-defined, non-conventional way, yeah.” – Brian – 3×13
- “Mourn the losses because they’re many but celebrate the victories because they’re few.” – Debbie – 3×14
- “I’m queer, and to anyone who takes pity or offence, I say: judge yourself… This is who I am.” – Brian – 5×01
- “Stop looking at the shell and see the pearl.” – Emmett – 5×02