Philosophising about the 'S'-word: Watch… and learn
Queer as Folk is an American-Canadian drama television series, produced for Showtime Entertainment and Showcase by Cowlip Productions, Tony Jonas Productions, and Temple Street Productions in association with Channel 4 Television. It was developed and written by Ron Cowen (Sisters) and Daniel Lipman (Sisters), who were the showrunners, and also the executive producers along with Tony Jonas, former President of Warner Bros Television.
Based on the British series created by Russell T. Davies (Doctor Who), Queer as Folk was the first hour-long drama on American television to portray the lives of gay men and women. Although it was set in Pittsburgh, PA, interior scenes were actually shot in Toronto. The series follows the lives of five gay men living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian (Gale Harold, Vanished, Desperate Housewives), Justin (Randy Harrison, American Horror Story), Michael (Hal Sparks, Lab Rats), Emmett (Peter Paige, Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World), and Ted (Scott Lowell, Bones); a lesbian couple, Lindsay (Thea Gill, Dante’s Cove) and Melanie (Michelle Clunie, Make It or Break It); and Michael’s mother Debbie (Sharon Gless, Burn Notice) and his uncle Vic (Jack Wetherall). Another main character, Ben (Robert Gant, Popular), was added in the second season.
The American version of Queer as Folk quickly became the number one show on the Showtime roster. The network’s initial marketing of the show was primarily targeted at gay male (and to some extent, lesbian) audiences, yet a sizeable segment of the viewership turned out to be heterosexual women. Groundbreaking scenes abounded in Queer as Folk, beginning with the first episode, containing the first simulated sex scene between two men shown on American television (including mutual masturbation, anal sex, and rimming), albeit more tame than the scene it was based on in the UK version. Despite the frank portrayals of drug use and casual sex in the gay club scene, the expected conservative uproar never materialized.