The third season of Queer as Folk (U.S. version) was ground-breaking and innovative, and incredibly powerful.  For the first time since the opening of the second season, the plot dealt strongly with hate-crimes and society’s treatment of the gay community.  Politics became a driving force when our protagonist began working on a political ad campaign.  Unfortunately, this was the moment I began to roll my eyes and become uncomfortable.

 

For the record, I am an Independent voter.  So when I see a show that strongly sides with Democratic or Republican leanings, I usually accept it without much concern.  However, QaF Season Three disturbed me because the political message—which was so right-on in the beginning—fell flat.

 

Synopsis: Brian Kinney lands a job in the political campaign for the Republican mayoral candidate, the chief of police Jim Stockwell.  His friends, of course, are against him because they believe Stockwell represents everything that is bad for their community.  Strikes against Stockwell:

1.      He is shutting down gay and lesbian bars and clubs in the Liberty Avenue district

2.      He is Republican, therefore (according to characters in the show), anti-gay/anti-lesbian

3.      As chief of police, he has left many unsolved hate crimes that are related to gay and lesbian individuals

 

Sounds like a pretty bad guy, eh?  Well, not quite.  In fact:

  1. He shuts down bars and clubs that break laws (such as indecent exposure, given that the backroom of Babylon is full of barely-clad men having sex), and we are not privy to his record of shutting down hetero bars.  It is never mentioned that he specifically does NOT shut down others.  He is merely referred to as “cleaning up the streets” in the bar district.

 

My impression: He still might be focusing on gay/lesbian clubs.  I would’ve liked to see evidence that he was actually willfully targeting these places.  Also, instead of protesting the clubs being closed, I would’ve preferred to see the cast addressing the need to decency laws.  Why attack enforcers of the law when you believe the law itself is wrong?

 

  1. Although Stockwell is the Republican candidate, he is initially endorsed by official Gay and Lesbian groups from the start.  It isn’t until after his police department record (of not solving hate crimes) shows up that this endorsement is brought into question.

 

My impression: I think Stockwell *is* anti-homosexuality.  He gets along great with Brian until he finds out Brian is gay, and Brian maintains his job by stressing that this could be good for the campaign (“I’m not anti-gay: my campaign manager is homosexual!”).  But for most of the season, when every member of the cast hates him, there is little concrete evidence that he is anti-gay.  And while there is one gay Republican in the cast (Ted), his side story throughout this season was such that he could not be the voice of the gay and lesbian Republican minority, and could not defend the possibility that Stockwell *could* support gay rights.

 

  1.  Many of the local anti-gay/lesbian hate crimes were left unsolved – that’s very true.  And as chief of police, it was his job to explain this.  Ultimately this was where his character unraveled – his partner on the police force was implicated in a particular crime, and it was discovered the Stockwell knew and covered for him.

 

My impression: I fought to like Stockwell up until this point, because I have a habit of rooting for the underdog.  Since he was implicated in covering these crimes, and we were given solid reasons for his doing so, I am quite glad he did not get the vote.  However, I must also acknowledge that at one point they blamed him for not acting on the hate crime that was inflicted upon Justin Taylor, a principle character in the cast.  This was blatantly inaccurate, as season two began with the trial of Justin’s aggressor.  True, the boy did not receive an adequate punishment for his crime, but this has absolutely nothing to do with the police, and everything to do with the judge as it was portrayed in that episode. 

 

To be completely honest, I liked the political tone of the season.  While I clung to the shred of hope that maybe our cast would discover that (*gasp*) not all Republicans are against gay and lesbian communities, I figured that we would learn the deep, dark truth about Stockwell.  And we did.

 

And on the day of the election, Brian did the right thing and put his job on the line in order to run a commercial all day which exposed Stockwell for who he truly was.  And when the votes came in, the Democrat won the election.  The people on Liberty Avenue poured out of the diners and clubs and danced in the street, and the world—which was filmed in black and white—was suddenly flooded with color.  Freedom from Stockwell’s oppression! Hurray!

 

Which led me to one question: Why did the Gay and Lesbian organizations not endorse the Democrat in the first place?

 

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