Queer As Folk: The Final Season

There’s a whiff of post-modern genius running through all five seasons of this beloved homosexual soap opera: that gay Toronto stands in as a pinked-out Pittsburgh; that the show sets its moral compass by the one character who appears not to have one (the excellent Gale Harold as Brian); and that for all its earnest, issue-driven lecturing, it always returns to a staple of unapologetic and hot gay sex. This groundbreaking series provided context and unlikely role models for an entire generation of newly connected queer North Americans. Season five, the final season, resolves all important character arcs, throws in a couple of ludicrously-inspired plot twists and ends with a huge shout out to Canada and its left-leaning gay rights laws. Most of these actors had their characters down in the first season and, generally speaking, they are all doing great work in this extended finale. And while each of the directors (seven in total) involved in this final season shows fair competence with the material, none match the inventiveness of the Bruce MacDonald-directed season three episodes. And because it’s a soap opera — a genre that privileges melodrama over economy of writing — there are times when the plotting seems unbearably slack, especially on repeat viewings. But pretty much all is forgiven in the face of the entire season’s heavy helping of great moments and juicy plot turns: Rosie O’Donnelle’s gutsy, dressed-down dyke guest appearances; Emmett’s (Peter Paige) realisation that he’s being played for a patsy as Channel 5’s "Queer Guy”; Brian and Justin’s (Randy Harrison) unlikely domestic adventures in rural Pennsylvania; and the overblown but heartfelt dénouement that ends these folks’ nightclubbing days forever. As Paige quipped on one of an earlier season’s extra features, "They come for the queer. But they stay for the folk.” Yes, we did. (Alliance Atlantis)