You’ve marveled at the Queer as Folk reunion, and now it’s time to see what all the fuss is about. It can be intimidating to tackle a new show, but EW has you covered with this handy guide to the most critical episodes. But buyer beware: A few spoilers abound.
Season 1, episode 1, “Premiere”
From the first shot of Babylon to the fake-butt fiasco, the first episode set the tone of humor and sensuality that would become a trademark of the series. We are introduced to Michael (Hal Sparks), Brian (Gale Harold), Emmett (Peter Paige), Ted (Scott Lowell), and Justin (Randy Harrison) out at the club, but the episode ends with Brian meeting his son (he provided sperm for his college friend Lindsay (Thea) and her girlfriend Melanie’s (Michelle Clunie) child)
Season 1, episode 2, “Queer, There and Everywhere”
We may have met the boys in the premiere, but it’s not until the series’ second hour that we meet the force of nature that is Michael’s mom, Debbie (Sharon Gless). She’s the PFLAG-pin-wearing waitress at the gay diner — exactly the job every young gay guy wants their mother to have, right? This episode also sees Brian having his first parental fight with Melanie and Lindsay when the new moms want to have a bris for Gus.
Season 1, episode 13, “Very Stupid People”
“God is love, and God doesn’t make mistakes.… We’re all his, Emmett. He loves us all,” Ted professes after Emmett is almost scared straight. It’s one of the most iconic scenes from the series.
Season 1, episode 22, “Full Circle”
When Michael decides to make the grownup decision to move to Portland with his boyfriend, Brian decides to be forever young and attend Justin’s prom. But in the parking lot, Justin is attacked with a bat by his one-time crush/current bully. Brian steps in to stop the attack, but Justin is severely injured and has to be hospitalized.
Season 2, episode 6, “Mixed Blessings”
Michael is now following his dreams and has opened up a comic book store. While at work, he meets a college professor, Ben (Robert Gant). Spoiler alert: It’s the beginning of one of the show’s central relationships. On the more comedic side, Ted is having trouble finding talent for his new porn site and calls on Emmett to, ahem, perform on command.
Season 2, episode 11, “The Wedding”
Fate throws Melanie and Lindsay a lot of curve balls leading up to their big day, but everyone — including Brian! — rallies to get them down the aisle. It was the first same-sex commitment ceremony of its kind on American TV.
Season 4, episode 6, “Death in the Family”
In the pilot, we were introduced to Michael’s Uncle Vic (Jack Wetherall), a man who had maxed out his credit cards taking trips because he thought he was at death’s door because he was HIV-positive. Though he survived years longer, his family finally has to say goodbye. And there’s another health scare: While hooking up with a doctor, Brian learns he has a lump on one of his testicles.
Season 4, episode 14, “Liberty Ride”
Michael and Ben get married while in Toronto — only to face the jarring reality of marriage inequality as they cross the border back into the U.S.
Season 5, episode 10, “I Love You”
In an episode that seems all too plausible now, Michael is seriously injured when there’s a bombing at a political rally in the gay district. The crisis throws everyone into an emotional tailspin and causes Brian to seriously consider how much he has feelings for Justin.
Season 5, episode 13, “We Will Survive!”
In a satisfying yet heartbreaking series finale, Brian and Justin call off their wedding while Melanie and Lindsay set off for a new life in Canada.