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And so it ends. Queer as Folk, the series that brought graphic depictions of gay sex to the American mainstream, departs the Showtime air Sunday night (10 P.M. Eastern/Pacific) in an important way--that is, utterly without controversy. Queer has been about more than just rampant copulation, likewise pulling open the curtain on the social and political mores that define gay life. Yet the show's provocative legacy is destined to be its no-holds-barred eagerness to shock with scenes roughly akin to soft-core porn.
To say that Queer goes out with a bang is too good a pun to pass up, of course. As we bid adieu to the show at the end of its fifth season, Brian (Gale Harold) and Justin (Randy Harrison) are getting ready to tie the knot. Lesbian couple Lindsay (Thea Gill) and Melanie (Michelle Clunie) move to Canada. Michael (Hal Sparks) has been asked to represent the Committee for Human Rights. And Ted (Scott Lowell) finally gets real about his relationship with Tad (Ben Bass).
It provides a satisfying capper to a series that perhaps hasn't received sufficient credit for paving the way to greater content freedom in television. What proved shocking at the turn of this century is no longer a big deal, in part because Queer as Folk has taken gay sexuality literally out of the closet and plunked it down in our living rooms--often with brazen candor. A behavior once considered scandalously taboo as far as TV was concerned is now just another piece of the landscape, and creator-producer-writers Ron Cowen and Daniel Lipman deserve significant credit for single-handedly engineering the transformation (as does Showtime for bravely giving it the platform). While the soap opera-like Queer as Folk wasn't always great television, it has been revolutionary nonetheless. (Ray Richmond, via Reuters)