41. Queer as Folk
Air Dates: December 3, 2000 – August 7, 2005
Stars: Michael Clunie, Robert Gant, Thea Gill, Hal Sparks, Gale Harold, Randy Harrison, Scott Lowell, Chris Potter,Peter Paige, Sharon Glass, Jack Wetherall
The praise for Showtime's Queer as Folk, unsurprisingly, often begins with its cultural significance: When the American version of the popular UK series debuted in 2000, physical interactions and romance between gay men and women had never been shown on TV with such boldness. Characters visibly made love just like any heterosexual ones would on other cable programs, aiding in the acceptance of same-sex relationships on television that's since benefitted shows like Glee.
What puts Queer as Folk into this countdown, though, is the show's actual quality, not just its ability to break ground. Regularly touching upon heavy subject matter (including HIV contraction and homophobia), the series was always firmly rooted in its endearing, fully realized characters. Tolerance was guaranteed. —MB