Initially based on the British series of the same name, Showtime’s Queer as Folk ran for five seasons, beginning in 2000. The television landscape was vastly different at that time and without context, it’s easy to underestimate just how groundbreaking the show truly was. Queer as Folk focused on the (sex) lives and loves of a group of gay men living in Pittsburgh. With lovable characters, quotable dialogue and a pretty awesome soundtrack, the series really was unforgettable.
One of the most important aspects of Queer as Folk was the relationships. The show placed a lot of emphasis on love and sex, and was unapologetic in its portrayal of both. Some of these romances were epic love stories, while others are best left forgotten. Let’s look at the best and the worst.
10 Best – Justin and Brian
Obviously, this relationship would play out quite differently if Queer as Folk was made today. One of the greatest criticisms thrown at the show is the rather flippant portrayal of the romance between a grown man and a minor. That being said, the fact that Justin Taylor was 17-years old when he met Brian Kinney doesn’t change the undeniable truth that their love story was always at the heart of Queer as Folk.
What began as one in a steady stream of one-night stands for Brian evolved into so much more when Justin refused to let go. Brian didn’t believe in love and though their relationship was never what you might call traditional in terms of monogamy, there is no denying how much these two men grew to love each other. Plus, the onscreen chemistry between Gale Harold and Randy Harrison was off the charts.
9 Worst – Michael and David
Everyone rejoiced when Michael Novotny realized that Brian wasn’t the only man in the world he could love. Dr. David Cameron was fine at first, even willing to fight for Michael’s affections. However, as time wore on, it became increasingly obvious that David didn’t love Michael for who he was, so much as who he thought he should be.
Michael left Pittsburgh and headed to Portland when David moved to be closer to his son. This signaled the end for these two, as fans knew it was only a matter of time before Michael returned. Thankfully, when he came back to Pittsburgh, David wasn’t with him.
8 Best – Melanie and Lindsay
As pretty much the sole lesbian representation on Queer as Folk, Melanie Marcus and Lindsay Peterson had quite a bit of heavy lifting to do. Though the show definitely put this couple through the wringer, fans never stopped rooting for them.
No matter what happened between them, whether it was infidelity, “lesbian bed death,” or the constant argument over Brian’s place in their lives, Mel and Linds found a way to get past it eventually. Despite being a couple for the majority of the show’s run, the two were also fully formed characters in their own right. That being said, they still belonged together.
7 Worst – Ted and Emmett
This is not an indictment of the delightful, nuanced friendship between these two men, but rather the somewhat awkwardly shoehorned romance that developed between them by the end of season 2. Ted Schmidt and Emmett Honeycutt were best friends for years, always supporting one another and making each other’s lives better. Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough for the writers.
For some reason, the show chose to see Ted and Emmett enter into a romantic relationship, which always felt a bit forced. Plus, there wasn’t much onscreen chemistry between Peter Paige and Scott Lowell once the two became an item. Seriously, Ted and Emmett for life, but not together!
6 Best – Michael and Ben
It was almost as though fans didn’t know what exactly they wanted for Michael until they found it in Ben Bruckner. The two met in season 2 and stayed together until the end of the series. Ben was a college professor who was living with HIV, which gave Queer as Folk the opportunity to explore complex issues that hadn’t been dealt with much on television.
Ben and Michael understood and accepted one another, never expecting the other to change who they were. The romance between Michael and David never felt quite right, but viewers always knew that Michael deserved someone great. Thankfully, he found that and more in Ben.
5 Worst – Justin and Ethan
These two started out okay at first. Brian had long made it clear that he couldn’t or wouldn’t be what Justin needed him to be. Enter Ethan Gold, the embodiment of everything Justin was so certain he wanted. They embarked on what began as a sweet, if bland, romantic relationship.
Eventually, Ethan cheated on Justin. However, by that point, Justin was already realizing that Brian really was the one for him. The only good thing about this romance was that it led directly into Justin and Brian reconciling while Broken Social Scene played in the background. It was one of the show’s most memorable scenes.
4 Best – Emmett and George
Okay, we’ll admit the romance between Emmett and George Schickel was a little creepy at first. Basically, George fell for Emmett on Ted’s porn site and began to pursue him. Despite the somewhat awkward circumstances of their first meeting, these two eventually developed a really sweet relationship.
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Played by the late Bruce Gray, George was quite a bit older than Emmett and also had quite a bit more money. He always treated Emmett with kindness though and Emmett really helped George come out of his shell. George suffered a heart attack in a rather compromising position with Emmett on a plane. Losing him really broke Emmett’s heart, but at least the guy went out doing something he loved.
3 Worst – Lindsay and Sam
These two weren’t exactly a couple, but Lindsay did cheat with him on a very pregnant Melanie and it was pretty terrible. Yes, Mel had cheated in the past as well, but this was so much worse. Sam Auerbach was just an awful character in general.
Lindsay was drawn to him as an artist, which eventually mutated into a physical attraction between them. It was a strange move for Lindsay as a character, even if she and Melanie were having some problems. Plus, the sex scene between these two was gag-inducing. If you’ve forgotten about it, consider yourself lucky.
2 Best – Ted and Blake
Yes, these two had a rocky relationship and yes, it literally put Ted in the hospital. So, while we wouldn’t say that the season 1 romance between Ted and Blake Wyzecki was exactly swoon-worthy, the way it came full circle was kind of awesome. Ted had seen Blake at his worst and though Ted was unable to help him then, eventually Blake did get that help.
After Ted hit a rock bottom of his own, Blake was there to pick up the pieces. It was a long road for these two to get back together, but when the series ended, most fans were happy to see they had reconciled. Ted deserved to be happy!
1 Worst – Emmett and Drew
We can all sympathize with Drew Boyd: a closeted football player engaged to a woman he didn’t want to marry. Even still, his treatment of both his fiancé and Emmett wasn’t great. Emmett wasn’t going back in the closet for anyone and he tried to be there for Drew, but the guy didn’t make it easy.
Even after the two broke up, Drew returned to Emmett and eventually came out of the closet. Of course, this meant he needed to explore life as a gay man before he could really settle down so once again, Emmett was left out in the cold.
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