gardinha: (Default)
gardinha ([personal profile] gardinha) wrote2005-05-29 11:18 pm

Queer as folk UK is eating my brain, or how I Iearned to stop worrying and embrace the obsession

Queer as folk UK is eating my brain. I have to write some thoughts down, get it out of my chest so I can go on leading a semi-productive life (there are classes to teach, tests to grade and a dissertation to write). Anyway, this british series is a new fannish obsession in a long line of fannish obsessions (The X-Files, Sports Night, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, The Wire, Veronica Mars, Battlestar Gallactica). It's not like I haven't been here before – falling head over hells in love with a show – but... There's something about this particular universe, these characters and their story arcs that has affected me like nothing else before. What follows is my trying to articulate the reasons why.

i. Do you believe in love at first sight?

Well, first things first. How did I come across Queer as folk? One day (like any other), I was going through the entries on crack_van and decided to check the ones regarding fan vids. I had heard about the show, sure - possibly in conjunction with the US version – but neither one had sparked my interest till that moment. I still don't know what made me click on the entry featuring a recommendation to killabeez's Little Brother, but boy, am I glad that I did. I watched the vid, transfixed. By then, I knew zip, zero, nada about those two men and their histories but there was something there, in the looks, in the touching that I could recognize. It was love: glorious and painful and happy and sad. And the angst, the angst: I'm such a sucker for *good angst*. I could tell (guess?) that theirs was a complex, complicated relationship, marked by advances and retreats, pushes and pulls. Also, there was this undercurrent of melancholy to 'the proceedings' (provided by the editing and the music, no doubt) that made it all look and feel even more poignant. My reaction, immediate and definitive: I had to find out more about those... friends? couple in waiting?. Didn't matter. I had to find a way to meet these characters, to become a witness to their fictional lives.

ii. I'm doing it backwards, or how I managed to survive till the dvd arrived

Full disclosure ahead, beware the wreckage :) I'm from Brazil and I knew I wouldn't find the show here, for rent or sale. Eurochannel, it seemed, had exhibited series 1 awhile ago and there was no plan to reprise it nor to show the two remaining episodes. Still, there was the internet and the bit torrents sites. So I tried to download Queer as folk, with zero success. In the end, I bought the Collector's Edition package, which I hoped it would be a good investment. It WAS. The downside: having to wait almost two months till the dvd arrived (Almost two months, you say? That's not much. Well, it might not be much to someone who hasn't fallen victim to a passion this strong. For me, though, it was a very long waiting period.). What did I do, then, during these weeks? Like any self-respecting fan I went in search of fannish things. Fanfic first, followed by essays and recaps and interviews. I discovered that there are some wonderful writers that have spun some wonderful tales. I have printed a selected few and have been re-reading them when the mood strikes. Unfortunately, it appears that most of the good writers (with an exception or two) have moved on to other fandoms and, save for the two great stories written for yuletide, there hasn't been much happening in terms of quality writing. I would like to be proven wrong, so if you fellow fans wanna rec fics written in the last year or so, I'd be really grateful.

iii. When gardinha met Stuart and Vince [and fell in love all over again]

It was a gamble and it paid off. I'm so incredibly glad it did. By then, I had been around too many sites, I had read too many fics, I had watched Little Brother too many times. There was no way Queer as folk could live up to the hype; there was no way it could fulfill MY expectations. What were the odds? I could only be a little bit disappointed, after finally getting what I'd wished for so very much. Right? WRONG. Because this is a wonderful show. This universe is so fully realized, the characters are such messy, human (damn 'relatable') people, the writing is so nuanced and sharp. Not to mention the 'so good it hurts' acting and the 'so beautiful it hurts' photography. Few times during my life as a spectator/fan I've been able to see the purely aesthetics' values and the content (the characterization and the stories) complimenting each other this well.

That is why it kinda angers me when people (some friends) talk and talk about the *oh my, did you see that, I didn't know they could show so much* fucking like it was the focus of the entire show. This isn't a show about men fucking men and that's it. This is a show about the characters' emotional journeys, their ties to each other and to their families, their learning what they want (from life, from each other) and how to go about that. I think sex is featured when it is important for the characters and the plot: it is not scene-filler; it is not the main attraction. It is there to help us (and them) to work through motivations and reactions and feelings. It is the cherry on top, so to speak.

Also, I'm really grateful that I can watch a show featuring gay men who are not neutered; who are sexual beings and not reduced to ONLY this aspect of their lives. IMHO, Queer as folk manages to show that these are just people, like you and me; people with their vices and virtues, their strengths and weaknesses, their traumas and neuroses; people trying to deal. The particularities regarding culture, gender and sexual orientation matter (as they certainly should), but in the grand scheme of things, I happen to believe that the emotions that color the men's interaction (all of which are universal) are the major element in the telling.


Gotta start (and end) with the love. The love (deep, for sure; toxic, dunno?) that connects the friends Stuart and Vince. They've been *together* since they were fourteen and now, with both approaching thirty, their lives are about to change. They've been dancing around each other for god knows how long and it takes the intervention of a third part (Nathan, Stuart's “one night stand that never went away”) for them to realize what they've got (romantic love?) and dare to act on it.

They are a pair, these two. I have the impression that every single thing of consequence that's happened to them was either witnessed by the other or shared with the other. Their lives seem to be THAT entwined: at this point in time, there's no Stuart (not really) without Vince, and there's no Vince without Stuart. Not the healthiest relationship, but that's how it is. Not to say that they couldn't grow distant and then apart. For this to occur, however, they would have to let go of so much history, of so many memories and hopes and dreams, of so much *them*, that they would've become different men. During the show, we see Stuart trying to do so, trying to push Vince away (episode 7). We see Stuart losing his point of reference, his safe net; we see him breaking. He falls apart (episodes 7 and 8) and starts to realize how much he depends on Vince, how much of his life is about Vince. I guess this must have scared him shit less.

Might have been the realization coupled with the fear that made him (re)act like he did during the final three episodes. In those, Stuart was all push and pull, give and take. He declared his love and then broke away (momentarily). He demonstrated interest but tried to get Vince into his bed in such a way that he would, somehow, be exonerated from the responsibility. A threesome, Stuart (and Vince) could chalk it up to some mindless fun, a roll in the hay. No serious repercussion. Now, if it would've been just Stuart and Vince, *alone together*, they would have to touch with intent, they would have to look at each other, they would have to deal with the consequences. From an instant onwards, though, Stuart seems willing to do all this (at least that's how I read the events in episode 9, with Stuart asking Vince to stay the night).

It's Vince – then – that prevents Stuart from gambling with their relationship. I tend to agree with Vince on this one; I think the timing was off. I think they could really, really benefit from the trip to America. There, on the other side of the Atlantic, they could learn how to be Stuart and Vince, *together together*, instead of the StuartandVince they were back in Manchester. They needed to be away from the past so they could have a shot at a future. They needed to reinvent themselves a little (individually and as a couple), reinvent their dynamics a little; they needed to find out how to accommodate the other (now playing a new role) in their lives. I believe they might make it. They make it when I imagine them, years from now, in my mind.

It would take work, though, since neither one seems to be an easy person to live with, to be in a romantic relationship with. I want a happy ending, sure – but a realistic one. An ending that takes into account their flaws as well as their qualities. Vince, for instance, is a very nice fella. Except that Vince lies A LOT. Sometimes he lies so he can spare people's feelings, sometimes he does it so he can avoid a confrontation, and sometimes he just doesn't want to deal with the truth (whatever it is). The bottom line is, he goes to great lengths to ensure he won't be seem as the bad guy in any given situation, resorting to lies again and again in order to maintain the status quo. Vince is, after all, the opposite of Stuart – he is *the good one*. The one who suffers from unrequited love; the one who suffers in silence / for all the world to see. The way I see it, Vince has a bit of a “martyr complex thing” going on, besides the low self-esteem. Add to this the idolization of Stuart Alan Jones...

A recipe for disaster, many would say. The reality could never live up to the dream. The thing is, I believe Vince and Stuart were (almost) equals by the end. When the tenth episode rolled by my screen, I saw a Vince who didn't need a Stuart who was all magnetism and sensuality and confidence and success all the time. I saw a Vince who was ready to take on a Stuart who had cracks in his armor, who was as prone to breaking as he was. I saw a Vince who was beginning to believe that he was needed, that he was necessary (and not as an acolyte or a cheerleader, but as someone Stuart could rely on, draw strength from). He was growing into himself and into a PARTNER in crime to Stuart.

May they lead a blessed, long and happy life in the land of great fictional couples – that land inhabited not by cheesy, perfect soul mates but by real people who love and argue and hurt each other, by people who are able to forgive, who kiss each other's scars (the ones they themselves caused) as atonement.

Coming later this week, for those who are interested: a recap of my favorite moments and some thoughts about Nathan (whom I like very much).