Watch: Ryan O'Connell and Fin Argus on Their Great 'QAF' Moms

by Steve Duffy

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday June 15, 2022

Watch: Ryan O'Connell and Fin Argus on Their Great 'QAF' Moms

When EDGE joined "Queer as Folk" actors Ryan O'Connell and Fin Argus, they were having a moment. "Ben was just explaining TikTok to me so I'm so glad you intervened. I did not want to hear that."

"You saved him," added Argus.

EDGE was speaking to the duo about their roles on "Queer as Folk," the Peacock reboot of the landmark Showtime series that resets the story to New Orleans and brings it up to date.

By far the biggest change from the original is how diverse it is. While the original British series (from 1999) and its Showtime adaptation (2000-2005) focused on the lives of cis, white men whose biggest concerns were the gym and their next hook up, the new series, executive produced and adapted by Stephen Dunn, offers a range of more diverse characters.

As NPR points out in a review of the show, "The new 'Queer as Folk' has broadened the palette, which means it can tell stories and give voice to characters the old series never could or did."

One step in the right direction is the portrayal of gay disabled men in the persons of Marvin (Eric Graise) and O'Connell, who plays Julian, the nerdy brother of hottie Brodie (Devin Way). O'Connell already broke the gay disability glass ceiling with "Special," his acclaimed Netflix series in which he played a version of himself — a gay man with cerebral palsy pursuing new friendships, relationships, and self-sufficiency. He based the series, which ran two seasons, on his memoir.

Argus plays Mingus, a student embracing drag for the first time. It is the 23-year-old actor's first gay role. He has embraced his gay identity in his music, having released an EP in 2017. He has also had a successful modeling career before turning to acting.

EDGE's Steve Duffy spoke to them about having famous TV moms on the show, the importance of inclusion, and who is responsible for canceling "Special."

Ryan O'Connell: Ben was just explaining TikTok to me so I'm so glad you intervened. I did not want to hear that.

Fin Argus: You saved him.

Steven Duffy (EDGE): So if each of you could tell me about your characters?

Fin Argus: Mingus is a punk brat who skates their way into hot guys; hearts and holes. And they do that through the art form of Drag... Succinct to the point. That's Mingus.

Ryan O'Connell: Julian is a spiky, funny, complicated gay person with a disability and his journey is about letting the walls down. And the love in.

Steven Duffy (EDGE): And you both scored big time with TV moms. Right. I mean, Ryan, you get? Yeah, you get Kim (Cattrall) and Fin, you you get Juliette Lewis. I mean, what's it like having two TV moms?

Ryan O'Connell: And it was incredible. I mean, Kim Cattrall has been a spiritual mother to gay men forever through Samantha Jones on "Sex and the City." So to have her play my TV mom actually was crazy and felt like a fever dream brought to life. I was obsessed.

Fin Argus: Yeah, I mean, kind of the same for me. Juliette Lewis is iconic, and I could go on about how cool she is. And how nice she is. But actually, we have limited time ... No, acting with her was so much fun. It was always a fresh take. And I learned a lot from her as an actor.

Steven Duffy (EDGE): And, you know, when the original "Queer as Folk" came out 20 years ago, it was groundbreaking. For the both of you as actors being able to tell your own story, how does that feel for you.

Fin Argus: I've never played a queer character before. So this was a brand new experience for me. And it was interesting, you know, to be able to bring that part of myself to the light in my job, which I'd never been able to do before besides in my music. So for me, it was a really liberating experience.

And given the fact that the show has a history of being groundbreaking for representation, I was so excited to be a part of this new modern iteration, because it has a wide array of queerness. And the type of queerness that I see myself reflected in. And I think a lot of people who haven't seen their queerness or just like someone that looks like them reflected on screen, this is going to be monumental, and hopefully, you know, make someone feel a little less alone ... Ooh, cheesy.

Ryan O'Connell: It's true. I mean, I saw this (the American "QAF") when I was 12. You know, incognito, secret under the covers, whatever. And I loved it. It was groundbreaking. But I could never imagine someone like me, someone who's gay and disabled, as being a part of it in a meaningful way. So, being a part of this iteration, it feels like me doing a solid to 12-year-old me, for sure.

Steven Duffy (EDGE): And I just gotta say this: Ryan, we need a "Special" Season Three.

Ryan O'Connell: Oh, I know. Well, Netflix canceled us because there were too many gay disabled shows on TV.

Steven Duffy (EDGE): Oh, that's rude!

Ryan O'Connell: I know. They're like, Netflix was like get your own identity bitch. And I was like, dragged me straight to hell.

Steven Duffy (EDGE): And you know, what are you hoping that the audience is going to take away from this show? This new reboot?

Ryan O'Connell: Queer people are absolutely toxic. We're kidding.

Fin Argus: That queer people are multiple. Queer people are human. Like, I feel like so often in TV and film, queer characters are sanctified and made to be like this palatable version of queerness. What this show does is it doesn't spoon-feed queerness to anyone, saying "this is who we are. This is where we're at. Join us." Yeah. So it's an invitation to understand the queer community a little bit better, or for the queer folks who are watching it to just see themselves reflected.

Editor's note: conversation was edited for clarity.