Interview with Jaclyn Moore: Queer As Folk Season 1
The first season of Peacock’s Queer as a people reboot premiered earlier this month and updates Russell T. Davies’ legendary series for a new generation. Spread over 8 episodes, the new iteration of the story introduces a group of LGBTQ friends living in New Orleans and lets the audience witness their reconstruction and rebirth after a tragedy that transpired in the first episode.
The ensemble of Queer as a people is diverse in every sense of the word, and the characters’ experiences are suffused with authenticity thanks to a writer’s room dedicated to the lives of real queer people. The narration is directed by Brodie (Devin Way, Grey’s anatomy and train station 19), a high school dropout who returns to New Orleans to fix some fences. Brodie’s circle of friends includes his ex Noah (Johnny Sibilly, Chop), his best friend Ruthie (Jesse James Keitel, big sky) and her partner Shar (freshman CG), his brother Julian (Ryan O’Connell, Special) and his mother Brenda (Kim Cattrall, Sex and the City).
screen rant spoke to showrunner Jaclyn Moore (Dear whites) about what sets Queer as a people as an exploration of queer and trans narratives and which characters she felt most connected to.
Screen Rant: What was it like working with Stephen and the writers’ room to develop the story?
Jaclyn Moore: It was really wonderful. The pilot script had existed; Stephen had written this beautiful pilot that I fell in love with and [I] was so lucky that he brought me in to work with him on developing the show and breaking and writing the season. We had a great writers room: Roxane Gay. Ryan O’Connell, Brontez Purnell, Des Moran, Azam Mahmood – and our assistants [Maïa Golden, Sarah Link and Alyssa Taylor], who also all got half a script because they were wonderful. You all did a great job.
But to be honest it was such a nice process to break up and tell these stories because I think we all approach it from the same perspective. Our catchphrase in the room was “chaotic”. So often you’re the only one in a writer’s room. As a result, your job uses your identity as a shield against the bad instincts of well-meaning people who steer the queer and trans characters in a bad direction. And in this case it was this beautiful opposite where we were a room full of queer people who got to tell the stories that only we can tell.
Because the truth is I’m so done with art that just seems to argue that we are human; that we are worthy of the base [decency]. My humanity, the humanity of queer people, the humanity of trans people? For me, this is a matter of course at this point. And we’re going to tell a story where these queer and trans characters are messy and complicated and they do fucking stuff and they cheat on people and they lie and they’re selfish and all those things. I don’t know any queer and trans people in my life who aren’t a little bit messy because I don’t know any people in my life who aren’t a little bit messy.
We allow this dignity of chaos; This would complicate cis people of all races and genders. We allow our Don Drapers or our Kerry Washingtons [who plays Olivia Pope] in Scandal or Nancy Botwin in Weeds. We get all of those things, but when it comes to queer people, we’re people’s best friends or a villain who popped by from the ’90s. It feels like, “I thought we’d get over this!” Or we’re just being imposed, holy people who have to [have] Honesty above all to prove that we are worthy of love. I think we can be messy and complicated, and also worthy of love and storytelling. And that’s what this show was about for me.
When working with Stephen, we definitely agreed on that. It was great. It was a great collaboration in the writers’ room and I was able to bring a lot of myself into it. Obviously Ruthie is a character that is a lot of mine. Much of Ruthie’s backstory is my backstory; many of the speeches Ruthie gives are straight out of my life. Also, working with Jesse James Keitel to create this character was a very special experience. It was a wonderful, a wonderful process.
I actually wanted to ask that because it’s such a large cast and yet it’s so impressive that people don’t get lost in the crowd. Of course Ruthie is one, but are there times when you’re fighting for a character to get more screen time or you’re like, “Hey, don’t you forget that storyline?”
Jaclyn Moore: Oh yeah. There are many. Ruthie is, I feel, a baby of mine and Jesse’s and Stephens. But I love Shar; I think CG is one of the biggest.
It’s so hard to choose; You are all so wonderful. I think Shar is such an interesting, complex character. Mingus is certainly someone at a different point in their gender journey and I think that’s really exciting as well. I feel like we don’t have token characters. There are shades; Anyone can be complicated.
We have Marvin and we have Julian – I always say Ryan because he was also one of the writers. We have several queer characters with disabilities. Not to mention Nyle DiMarco and Andrew Gurza – there are so many. [We’re] Freeing people from the weight of just being representative and instead allowing them to be intricate and nuanced. I think that’s the secret of all this.
That’s something I’m thinking about with Dear White People, we could do it too, and that was something I really wanted to bring to bear here as well. The idea of [having] a bunch of everyone so we don’t have to have people say, “Oh, I’m the trans person.” I think this is really something special.
Queer as a people summary
Set in New Orleans, the series is a reimagining of the 1999 Channel 4 series created by Russell T Davies and follows a motley group of friends whose lives are changed in the wake of tragedy.
Check out our other interviews with Queer as a people Stars Devin Way & Johnny Sibilly, CG & Jesse James Keitel and Fin Argus & Ryan O’Connell, and creator Stephen Dunn.
More: The 10 Best Shows Like Queer As Folk
All 8 episodes of Queer as a people Season 1 is currently available to stream on Peacock.
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