For a certain subset of viewers (particularly those consuming premium television in the early 2000s), Queer As Folk was a milestone in gay media that burst open the doors on telling queer stories. 2021’s All You Need owes a hell of a debt to Showtime’s QAF, yet also exists in its own purely modern space. The world the show is coming into is much different today, and is reflective in the sexually-charged narrative. The major difference is that while All You Need does indeed contain quite a lot of graphic sex, it no longer feels shocking or envelope-pushing to portray. In a more accepting 2022, All You Need is still a breath of fresh air.
Set in Berlin, Germany, All You Need follows four gay men in two distinct relationships. Horny and brash Vince (Benito Bause), described by his close friend and current roommate, Levo (Arash Marandi), as “Grindr-ella,” yearns to find the perfect man. Vince’s wishes may just come true, as Robbie (Frédéric Brossier), an adorable personal trainer unafraid of being aggressive to get what he wants, enters the fray. Vince and Robbie share an instant connection. In this case, “instant connection” translates to bathroom blowjobs, which of course blossoms into a richer romantic connection. Vince is said to change partners as frequently as his underwear, and having an actual boyfriend presents a major lifestyle change.
Levo meanwhile has a partner of his own, the hunky and naive Tom (Mads Hjulmand), whom he is just getting super serious with. The two will soon move in together. Levo has lost count of how many sexual partners he has had, while Tom has only been with Levo. Their relationship is cute, especially as Tom tries to feel his way through a queer world that Levo has known forever. It all seems new to Tom, and that comes with its own brand of challenges and hardships.
As we follow the trajectory of each couple’s relationship, the first season provides a unique framing device (and a lovely theme song that kept getting stuck in my head) of Vince being pushed into a pool. The viewer will wait awhile to get answers to what is going on here; at times, the narrative even goes back further than one would expect. The third episode depicts each character from one year prior, and where they were at mentally and emotionally. Change can come in many ways, and this episode in particular really captures the major themes and drama that reverberates through the remaining ones.
All You Need only occasionally chooses to dip its toes into the world of politics—personally I found this to be refreshing, as I am so exhausted with being berated by one political side or the other in major projects lately. It doesn’t need to stray into this angle for long, particularly because the characters are rich with detail and the neon-tinted sexuality and visuals speak for themselves. While I did not yet have a chance to watch the second season, I have no doubt that All You Need delivers more of what we need right now. Pure unadulterated fun and LGBT drama wrapped in a tidy bow of inclusive comedy— All You Need steps out of QAF’s shadow with poise and grace.
All You Need screened at 2022’s OUTshine LGBTQ+ Film Festival.