The lives and loves of several devastatingly attractive young gay men continue to be chronicled in candid detail during the second season of this pioneering series. Although it bears the same title as its British forerunner, this stateside version is as homegrown as Pittsburgh, where the action-amorous and otherwise-occurs. Each episode is densely plotted and definitely not for those who favor sanitized dialogue and characters stuck on the straight and narrow. 20 hours on 6 DVDs. They're still out and proud, and in their second season the boys (and girls) of Queer as Folk
continued to break ground as the most gay-friendly show on television (sorry, Will and Grace
). Some plot lines were a little over the top, others truly heartfelt, but they were never less than entertaining, even during their All My Children
moments. Season two opened in the aftermath of the gay-bashing of Justin (Randy Harrison), the young artist who wondered if he'd ever be able to paint or draw again, and went on to face a variety of issues and plotlines as diverse as its characters. Some were timely (Michael negotiating a relationship with new HIV-positive boyfriend Ben), some romantic (lesbians Lindsay and Melanie tying the knot), some new to the show (Emmett embarks on a relationship with a--gasp!--older gentleman), and some, well, far-fetched (how many of you had to wrestle, like Ted did, with starting your own pornographic web site?).
While the writing tended to flail about a bit, thankfully coalescing by the season's end, the show continued to be anchored by stellar actors, especially Peter Paige's Emmett, who grew the most during the second season; Michelle Clunie's Melanie, the alternately wry and sweet lesbian who became the show's secret weapon; and, as always, Gale Harold's Brian, the lothario with a heart of tarnished gold. Frustrating, fascinating, exasperating one moment and charming the next, Brian perfectly summed up the guilty pleasures of Queer as Folk, where humanity peeks out every now and then from behind the curtain of fabulous comedy and drama. --Mark Englehart