New 'Queer as Folk' will Involve a Pulse-Like Tragedy

Monday May 16, 2022

'Queer as Folk'
'Queer as Folk'  (Source:Peacock)

The original Russell T. Davies "Queer as Folk," which ran on British television in 1999 and 2000, kicked off with one member of a group of LGBTQ+ friends dying of an overdose. Showtime's American version of the series, which launched in 2000 and ran for five seasons, included an episode in which a gay club was bombed.

The new "Queer as Folk," coming to Peacock June 9, follows suit with similarly heavy story elements, according to the Verge.

Creator Stephen Dunn, in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter, explained that the new series won't be a "reboot" but rather "a re-imagining of the show" that is "set in New Orleans, as well as within a community that's rebuilding after a tragedy."

Specifically: Early in the show's run, a Pulse-nightclub-like mass shooting takes place at a gay nightclub called Babylon. In real life, a gunman murdered 49 (and wounded another 53) mostly LGBTQ+ and Latinx clubgoers in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016, in a mass shooting that unfolded over several hours. Discussing the Pulse nightclub massacre and how it has inspired the new series, Dunn said, "I knew from the beginning there was only one way and one reason to reimagine the show.... I wanted to re-envision it through the lens of what happened post-Pulse."

"Our show is completely fictional, but the trajectory of our story is inspired by the realities of what that was like," Dunn continued, "not just that night, but the aftermath and the way that the community of Orlando rebuilt in the wake of that tragedy."

Dunn is so committed to telling that story right that he met with survivors of the Pulse nightclub tragedy. "We got to see a public image of these people who were regular people going to a bar," Dunn noted, "but then became political. They became media figures."

Dunn wanted to go beyond media headlines and explore "what it is like to go through something like that and how it's not this saintly victim tragedy story. These are real people and they're not victims.... And this community all responded in completely different ways."

As examples of how the show's fictional tragedy shapes its overall storylines, Dunn shared that "The trial of the shooter is a part of the show. The rebuilding of Babylon becomes a part of the season."

The escalating legislative attacks against the LGBTQ+ community are a real-life backdrop for the new series, but, Dunn said, "Our show will never be an issue piece. It will deal with issues, but it will be dealt with through a character-motivated way. And it may not always be dealt with right. That's what we want the freedom to be able to do."

Dunn expects to generate some controversy. "Knowing where the season goes, the show is going to be divisive," he told THR, "and it has to be."

All of that said, though, the new series will honor the two versions that came before by remaining diverse, featuring an all-LGBTQ+ writers' room and casting LGBTQ+ actors in those roles, and being unapologetically sex-positive. "We have some full-frontal nudity in the show in a sex scene that very rarely, if ever, gets to be seen and in a way that is loving, consensual and empowering," Dunn teased.