‘Queer as Folk’ Reboot Cast on What Sets This Version Apart from Original Series
Among the slew of reboots gracing our screens, for the queer community, none may be as exciting as the return of Queer as Folk. Season 1 of the Peacock reboot debuts Thursday, June 9, and it brings back the beloved series in a reimagined form that’s even more groundbreaking in its diversity and inclusion than the past two iterations.
Peacock’s Queer as Folk is a vibrant new version of the groundbreaking British series created by Russell T. Davies. It explores a diverse group of friends in New Orleans whose lives are transformed in the aftermath of a tragedy. Content warning: the series premiere features a mass shooting at Babylon, a queer nightclub. Creator Stephen Dunn worked with survivors of the Pulse shooting in Orlando, Florida when creating this series about healing, thriving, and persevering in the wake of a uniquely American traumatic event. (The episode will come with a content warning.)
The Queer as Folk reboot cast stars Devin Way, Johnny Sibilly, Fin Argus, Jesse James Keitel, CG, and Ryan O’Connell, with Kim Cattrall, Juliette Lewis, Ed Begley Jr., Chris Renfro, and more. And while there is tragedy in this series, there’s equal amounts of unbridled queer joy and so much more stories to be told. Here, the cast shares why it was important to bring Queer as Folk back now and how this version sets itself apart from the previous U.K. and U.S. versions to TV Insider.
Way (Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19) and Sibilly (Hacks, Pose) play Brodie and Noah, former fiancés who, as Way describes, show “the complex struggle between two people who do love each other but don’t always perfectly fit.” Brodie is “charming and chaotic and wears his heart on his sleeve, which is both a good and an interesting, complex, chaotic thing.” And Noah, according to Sibilly, is “the perfect character: all put together on the outside, and on the inside, he is a volcano of messiness.”
The shooting at Babylon changes both of their lives forever, not only in how it impacts them personally, but also through the loss of a dear friend. Way and Sibilly say viewers can expect to see what it’s like to heal from such an event on a day-to-day basis.
“Some people push people away when you go through trauma and other people draw really close to each other and bond,” Way shares. “You’re going to see the duality of the push and pull aspects, and how both of their heartbreak really pull them together into a trauma-bond type of situation.”
“And how they experience that loss in their own way and what that means for their own journey of reconciling what this person meant to them,” Sibilly adds. “You have each other, but you’re also alone on an island when you lose someone. Viewers will definitely get to see both of those.”
Dunn’s Queer as Folk is much more diverse in its storytelling. Most of its cast are people of color and trans people, and it will show relationships seldom seen on screen. Despite there already being two different versions of Queer as Folk, this is the first to center these demographics. The representation is what Way is most excited for fans to see. And Sibilly assures there are plenty of Easter eggs shouting out the past versions.
“The first two meant so much to so many people. It meant so much to us and we weren’t even necessarily reflected in it,” Way says. “So how many people are going to be able to see themselves in what we just created? That’s what I’m the most excited about, is to go, ‘If that meant this much, how much more will this wider lens mean to even more people?'”
“It still has that lifeblood of what it feels like to be queer,” Sibilly shares, adding, “All of those moments where you see how these queer people take what they’re given and they make lemonade out of lemons, and any of the scenes where you see most of the characters together and their different dynamics with each other, it’s really special. Because a lot of times you don’t get to see a lot of queer characters on screen talking to each other, being in the same scene. It’s really nice to be able to have that, not only as a viewer but as an actor.”
One of the groundbreaking relationships in this series is Ruthie (Keitel) and Shar’s (CG). Ruthie, a trans woman and former party girl, and CG, a non-binary person and former rocker, are both educators navigating life’s transitions together. CG gives birth to their twin children in the series premiere, and the relationship between the partners, according to Keitel, is “very much this T for T, very queer love fest that I think can only come from a place of authentic storytelling.”
“It’s not often you see queer people like us in relationships on TV. I think this relationship feels very true to life,” Keitel says, adding that “having the creators like Stephen and Jaclyn [Moore] and the rest of the creative team behind it, I felt that I wanted to get it right, and that in trusting them we would.”
“There’s also something about that word ‘groundbreaking’ when it comes to this relationship, because when you’re zoomed in and everyday life is as everyday life is, for some reason when these two people are together walking down the street, it doesn’t seem that huge,” CG shares. “But when you put a camera on it and you present it and you realize how little these people are seen, it really takes a shift. The level of ‘Oh, yeah, this is breaking ground’ really settles in.”
The reboot features queers of all ages, including Argus’ Mingus, a high schooler “punk queer-do” aching to immerse themselves in New Orleans’ queer community through drag. Argus (Clouds, The Gifted), along with their cast members, says this version points a spotlight on what it’s like to be queer in America in 2022.
“It’s a brand new crop of queer folks, and I feel like it represents and reflects where we’re at in society,” Argus says. “For me, it was incredibly liberating to play a queer character for the first time and to do it on a show with such a legacy for breaking ground in representation. It feels like a full-circle thing for me. I’m honored to be part of this retelling. It feels modern and honest.”
O’Connell (Special, Will & Grace) plays Julian, Brodie’s brother, “pop culture nerd, a big mall enthusiast, and big airplane enthusiast” who’s “just trying to let the walls down and trying to let the love in.” O’Connell was born with cerebral palsy, and he’s looking forward to having disability representation featured in the reboot.
“My 12-year-old, closeted, horny ass devoured the U.S. version of Queer as Folk, but I also didn’t see myself represented,” O’Connell says. “No shade, obviously. It was ‘99 — gay, disabled was a one-point fraught on the marginalized identity menu. But I feel like if 12-year-old me knew I was going to be in the reboot, it would’ve saved me a lot of years of ‘I hate myself’ fare, so it’s a tribute to younger me.”
Way and O’Connell’s mother is played by Cattrall, and Argus’ mother is played by Lewis.
“Kim Cattrall playing my mom?! Oh my GOD. We hit the lottery,” O’Connell gushes, to which Argus adds, “Yeah, very good mom casting on this show.”
More queer joy moments to look out for in the series, according to the cast, are Ruthie and Brodie’s BFF dynamic, which CG describes as “the most pure, most hectic, most thrilling” thing, a drag queen showdown that Keitel describes as an “expansion of the limitless possibilities of queerness,” and the creation of a new queer space near the end of the season that Way says is a beautiful moment to behold.
Queer as Folk is produced by UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group. It was created, written, and executive produced by Dunn, who also directed the pilot. Additional executive producers include Moore, Lee Eisenberg, Emily Brecht, Davies, Nicola Shindler, and Louise Pedersen on behalf of All3 Media International, which distributes the format and the original British series produced by Red Productions for Channel 4.
Queer as Folk, Series Premiere, Thursday, June 9, Peacock