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Queer As Folk

Recently got into "Queer As Folk" - I simply can't believe that I actually missed this the first time round >.<

Anyway, I want to put down some thoughts because I see a lot of UK Vs USA versions going around with all sorts of differing opinions and it drives me nuts.
But before I start on my personal thoughts, let me lay out the basic situation for you:

The "original" Queer as Folk was a UK TV series.  It ran for one season and two episodes and then got axed by the broadcaster.  The story is set in the city of Manchester (which is in Northern England).
Later, another team picked up the series and decided to remake it for American television.  The renamed the characters and moved the entire setting over to the USA.  For the first season they followed the basic story line of the UK series that they were basing it off, but since the American version continued on for a total of 5 seasons, seasons 2-5 were all new content written by the new team.

Now personally I watched the UK version first, naturally ^.-  For the record, I am British myself (I'm from London), although I've been living in Hong Kong for the past 2.5 years :)  I loved it.  Totally.  So much so that I was reluctant to watch the USA version because I thought they would spoil it xD  Curiosity won out and I must admit I cringed my way through the first season, but fell into epic addiction during the second season.

But here's what I think : the USA and UK series are SO different there's no way in hell one could possibly compare them.

First up, the UK series is EXTREMELY localised.  It is VERY British to the point that unless you know a lot about UK culture you're misunderstanding scenes.  And even IF you are British you're STILL probably not understanding HALF the references unless you're actually from MANCHESTER.  The way they speak, their attitudes, their way of interacting with each other is very English.  This is evidenced by the clueless comments left by many watchers of the YouTube videos.

For example: take the episode in season 2 where Stuart's Mother meets with Nathan and Vince's Mothers in the kitchen.  in this scene, Nathan's Mother says:

Nathan's Mother: There's lots to learn Margaret.  Still... I've got Stuart to thank for that *nod*.
Margaret (Stuart's Mother): Oh, did ehm...
Nathan's Mother: With Nathan?  Yes.
Margaret: ...that's nice.  What does Nathan do?
Vince's Mother: *interrupting* He's a student.
Margaret: What's he studying?
Nathan's Mother: Your son, mostly.
(Nathan arrives in his school uniform).
Nathan's Mother:  This is Nathan, my son.  It's his birthday on Friday.  We're having a party.  His sixteenth.

Watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoRZ2paICNk
(above scene starts around 5:30)

Through this scene Nathan's mother is utterly cool, smiling, unflustered and friendly.  Her open and brazen comments led some commenters to believe that she was being proud of Nathan and "showing off" his sexuality and the fact that she knew about it so early.  However, anyone with an inkling as to how to argue in British culture will realise that's she being about as insulting as it is possible to be.  She is in fact accusing Margaret of failing to bring up her son well, resulting in Stuart having few (or no) morals and by extension implying that it is Margaret's fault that Nathan has been (in her opinion) "corrupted".  Of course she doesn't say this out loud, but we still hear her loud and clear...
....unless you happen to be American and then for some reason you have to have this kind of thing spelt out to you.  With arguments and thrown glasses of coffee and that kind of thing.

So I will defend the UK series by saying that its subtly, cleverness and genius has been much overlooked - through its own fault i must add - but overlooked none-the-less, and perhaps therefore, which such a limited audience its unsurprising that the show got axed.  The American version, of a more main-stream, easy to understand and obvious nature met with a lot more success because it appealed to a wider range of people.  Not a bad thing at all.  But a difference that needs to be recognised.

Secondly difference to be noted is that the stories, the characters and the directions of the two series are utterly different.

The UK series is a SAD story about PATHETIC people with tiny lives who think that they are SOMETHING when, in the larger scene of things, they're the dregs of society.  They constantly speak about going to LONDON as if its some kind of fantasy land of wonder and intrigue and danger.  Vince works in a dead end job in a crummy supermarket, everyone else is unemployed or on minimum wage.  The only person with a "real" job is Stuart who has a comparatively glamorous position in a marketing agency which remains, however you look at it, a small-time enterprise.  All these people are NO ONE and they're all going NOWHERE. 
The story is based on the journey that we (and the characters) make as we gradually come to realise this.  The key relationship is the friendship between Stuart (USA renamed Brian) and Vince (USA renamed Michael).  The fact is that Stuart's life is falling apart all around him, even though he tries desperately to maintain an illusion of his own immortality, and that he is utterly dependant on Vince just to simply function day to day.  In the first few episodes we are all charmed by Stuart, but by the end come to see just how pathetic he is.  Eventually we come to the point where Nathan (USA Justin) - someone who Stuart originally scorned, overtakes Stuart as the most desirable man.  This hammers home the point of Stuart's ungraceful descent from glory quite clearly.  The fact that in the end Stuart will end up with the one man he's denied his dependence on for so long because he can't bear to admit his weakness, is the ultimate sadness and beauty of QaF UK.

The USA series, by contrast is a ROMANCE.  It is absolutely dominated by the JUSTIN-BRIAN relationship.  It is IDEALIST and full of the concept of the American Dream, people BREAKING OUT of their miserable lives and making it to the big time.  Michael, unlike Vince, busts out of that crummy shop where he works and opens his very own comic book store.  Even the most unlikely character (Ted) makes himself fortune and fame with his own pornography website.  The American QaF is all about people learning, growing, developing and improving themselves.  And, lest we forget for a moment, finding LOVE.  It's bland.  It's Hollywood.  It's a winning formula.

And this is why, for me, Season One USA failed.  Failed HARD.  Because they had a different concept of where this series was going, but they tried to squeeze it into the UK model and it just didn't work.  The UK series was about misery, being miserable and about accepting that misery as something that cannot be escaped.  Taking scenes and ideas and god-forbid DIALOGUE from that and trying to patch it into the comparatively positive and forward-moving situation of the USA version was a total mistake.
It turned out so corny, so godamn awful I could hardly bare to watch it.  Thank God - and I do mean thank GOD - the USA team later gave themselves free-reign to turn the whole thing in their own direction.  The series became a thousand times better when the UK elements were removed.

EEEEh I had a whole bunch more too say but its late now >.< May or may not continue this rant tomorrow :P  Night ^.^/