Michael Charles Novotny-Bruckner is a main character in every season of the Showtime drama series Queer As Folk. He is the beloved gay son of Debbie Novotny. He is later married to Ben Bruckner, the biological father of JR Novotny-Marcus and the adoptive father of Hunter Novotny-Bruckner.
Michael has a mother he is very close with, Debbie, and her gay brother Vic. An episode's plot was dedicated to Michael discovering his roots, and how his mother changed her name to have him believe that his father was a soldier and hero who died in the Vietnam war. His actual father was Danny Devore, who became a drag queen entertainer named Divina Devore.
Michael is best friends with Brian Kinney whom he has been friends with since they were 14 years old. Since the show's debut, their lives have gone in extremely different directions. Michael settles down with his partner, Ben Bruckner, a university professor, and the two eventually adopt teenage son Hunter. At the end of season 4, Michael is also the father of baby daughter, JR, whose primary parents are lesbian couple Melanie Marcus and Lindsay Peterson; Michael donated the sperm for Melanie's pregnancy, but nevertheless remains an active father figure to the baby girl. His best friend, Brian on the other hand has led a very promiscuous life, filled with drugs and sex.
At the start of the series, Michael is a college dropout in his late 20s. He works at a Wal Mart-like store, called the Big Q. He is roommates with the fabulous and flamboyant Emmet Honeycutt. After so many things in his life, he is searching for his purpose and desires. His mother, Debbie, who has been waitressing at the same diner since she had Michael in high school is always encouraging him to aim to be the best he can be and always believe within himself. However, his best friend, Brian has an emotional hold on him since they were fourteen years of age and struggles to let him go...
Michael is referred to as a classic swimmers build with an all round American personality. He stands approximately 5'8", has short dark brown hair, and classified as being adorable and cute; especially when he smiles and laughs. He has a heart of gold while also being a slightly quick tempered due to his Italian descent. His attire is typical American attired, but more fitted.
Michael is also characterized as personable, sensitive and deeply loyal. These characteristics are especially present in his relationship and subsequent marriage, his friendship with Brian and the day to day activities at the diner.
He is normal balanced male demeanor, however, he has subtle feminine traits when it comes to the family structure. He is more of a beta male next to his partner, Ben. In parenting, he is very balanced in both masculine and feminine roles. He is strong firm enough in protection for Hunter, as he is with firmly disciplining him, but yet masculine enough to be laid back with him to encourage his creativity.
As the series progresses, his personality becomes more solid and steady, and strong much like his mother's personality. He becomes very outspoken like his mother for LGBTQ rights.
Throughout the Series
In the first episode, he appears to have been abstaining from sex. He drives Brian to see his newborn child, Gus, despite Justin Taylor tagging along and being a major distraction for Brian. He is later seen at the store as an assistant manager where his employee, Marley, has made fun of a couple. He entertains her joke only to have remorse when they drop their baskets in general dissatisfaction. He comforts Justin when Brian rebuffs him after asking to see him again.
Later, After trying to convince Brian to go to the Bris for his son, he eventually goes and greets his friends, Melanie Marcus and Lindsay Peterson, at their house. he subtly makes a wish to have the stable home they have. After realizing what the Bris is, he calls Brian to come immediately, which he does.
He appears to be distraught about Ted's coma. He eventually meets Ted's mother, who Ted has inadvertently mentioned him prior to her. Trying to clear his apartment of any inappropriate tools, He and Emmett discover that Ted has made a shrine to Michael; hinting he is emotionally invested in him. Michael talks to him after he recovers and addresses the topic ambiguously.
No one knows Michael is gay on his job. At first, his employee, Marley, makes Tracy an object of criticism just to get his opinion of her and she reveals to him that she likes him romantically. After working late, Michael get injured while working with Tracy and she refers him to a chiropractor. He meets and begin to dates Dr. David Cameron, a chiropractor. Michael gets promoted to Store Manager position at the Big Q, with them assuming Tracy and he are together.
Just when Michael thinks things head for the worst in their relationship and he thinks they don't have much in common, David proposes that he moves in with him. David pressures Michael to move in. David visits an old couple to show Michael that it is possible for a gay couple to work out. Michael goes with Brian, Emmett and Ted to find Justin in New York. Michael chooses not to move in and they briefly breakup.
Michael has his 30th Birthday. Brian throws him a surprise birthday party and invites plenty of people; including Tracy from the store. Brian purposely makes Tracy aware that David and Michael are dating, which upsets her and many others at the party for the commotion, including Michael himself. Michael leaves with David and after a struggle, they resume their relationship and Michael decides to live with him. Michael settles in with David.
The next day at work, Marley is telling gay jokes and Tracy sees Michael unresponsive. Tracy then states her opinion on how she feels about gay jokes towards Marley in defense of Michael. Tracy attempts to put her two week notice in, but Michael is able to further apologize and explains by saying "...but when you spend your life keeping it a secret, who you really are, you learn to stop trusting people and it becomes second nature." She claims she would never betray him. They remained friends and she ultimately stayed in her position.
They have brief issues of personal belongings, but make arrangements. Michael and David make love at the same time Michael would have to pick Brian up from Babylon. David affirms that he loves him. Michael lies to David, saying his mother is sick to see Brian, infuriating David at first, but they resolve that issue.
David's preteen aged son, Hank Cameron, comes to town to spend time with his father. He meets Michael with the commenting on his youth. After struggling awkward moments, David leaves them to take care of work matters. Hank vents to Michael about his father and how he has to have everything planned, and Michael breaks from the itinerary David has set up. Hank and Michael bond through eating junk food and reading comics.
Although Michael is very happy with David, he gets irritated when David chooses to pay for everything. Michael speaks up, asking If he's selfish for not wanting him to pay for everything. David assures him that he is not, but wants him to be happy. They work out an agreement financially and Michael takes him up on his offer to take him to Paris for the first time.
Michael and Ben have had a wonderful time in Paris. Michael starts to live a lavish life much to the chagrin of his friends and family due to his changed attitude of life. He falls out with his family and friends (especially his mother) because they came to a party uninvited.
A good looking man hits on Michael at Babylon, but he declines advances due to being in a relationship. Later, Brian finds out that David was in the baths. Michael finds out and confronts David on it. Michael decides to call the guy that hit on him at Babylon, and get together. They start getting oral and Michael stops it. Later, Michael returns home to David, who is organizing CDs and wondering where he has been. Michael reveals there was a guy he didn't originally tell him about, and due to David being at the baths, he decided to get even at first, but stopped because it was empty.
Michael moves to Portland, Oregon at the end of the first season with David.
In the first episode of the second season, Michael returns from Portland after breaking up with David.
Michael does a nude waiting gig with Emmett since he is currently unemployed. Tracy welcomes him back to The Big Q, but mockingly, Andrew hires him back at his former position as an assistant manager again since he took over his store manager position leaving with David.
After so much aggravation from Andrew, He quits his job at the Big Q. He decides to live his dream and go after his passion in comics and buys a comic book store from Buzzy. He bids the comic that Brian bought for him, and successfully get $10,000 to buy the store. Fixing up his store, He meets Ben Bruckner as his very first customer in his comic book store.
After a natural rapport with Ben in the store, Ben invites Michael to speak in front of his class about comics as he has seen that he has passion and knowledge about them. At first apprehensive, Michael ultimately goes before the class and lets his words about comics flow, even letting his personal interest come out about superheroes in tights. Ben shows him his book and autographs it to him and Michael thanks him with a kiss, seeing Ben's ardent look in his eyes.
Michael struggles to come to terms with Ben's HIV positive status. However, he has honest affection for Ben as he can't forget him. Michael fights for Ben. Michael tenaciously wins him over by playing basketball with him terribly in order to bribe him to go out with him, which works. While out, Michael evens confronts the friends of his circle over Ben and everyone stands silent. Before ben decides to leave, Michael bravely serenades to him in an improvised karaoke song proclaiming his affections for him which leaves Ben feeling his affections.
After finding out Ben was positive, Debbie forbids Michael to see him when he brought him for dinner. Michael states, "This is the reality. You're just going to have to learn to deal with it." Debbie started asking Ben personal questions concerning his HIV status which upset and angered Michael. Debbie reverses the statement on Michael said earlier saying, "This is the reality. You're just going to have to learn to deal with it." Despite her saying this, he continues to see Ben.
Justin finds out that Brian has been with Ben before shocking the gang. At first, Michael says it doesn't bother him, but overtime, the curiosity of their encounters outweighs him and he becomes very insecure due to feeling inadequate in comparison to Brian. Ben find out from Ted and Emmett that Michael harbors emotional feelings for Brian, but has never been intimate with him and it affects him in a few different ways. In this episode, Michael resolves his insecurities about Brian and is able to move on and love Ben while having an unconditional love for Brian.
From her brother's advice after initially declining his invitation to dinner, she begins to date Carl. After her date, she comes home to Michael upset having gone out with him because he felt he was homophobic. She reminds him that she looked out after him all of life and she deserved to go out every once and a while on a date. Later, Michael and his friends were pulled over and arrested from Michael embittered by police. Carl bails them out and Michael confronts him on his mother. He tells Michael that he likes his mother and he simply doesn't understand homosexuality.
Michael goes to talk to his mother whom is working the diner. Debbie defensively says that she has a right to date whoever she wants. Michael agrees, but also refers to Ben and tells her that he has that right as well. Despite this, Debbie is cordial towards Ben, but not friendly. After initially declining she appears at their place for Ben's birthday just to see him in a rare outburst due to his health. At first, very upset at this until he collapses and ends up in the hospital. Knowing that her son truly loves him, she shows up at the hospital for Ben and the two finally begin to bond as she fed him soup at his bedside bringing a smile to Michael's face.
Michael discovers that her high-school sweetheart, Danny Devore, could be the father of Michael. They never married and she later took on the last name of Novotny after reading the name of a soldier who died in Vietnam. She confronts him that Michael knows and they briefly discuss their past as she wasn't angry that he was gay, he was angry that fact she was lied to. Michael forgives her for covering up the truth and they embrace knowing Debbie had done it with the best intentions for Michael.
In Episode 2.15, Michael and Justin Taylor, create a comic book character named Rage, a gay superhero comic whose title character is based on Brian. The comic would later be a success, but a movie version in season four was canceled due to a fickle Hollywood. Michael later catches Justin's affair with Ethan Gold and eventually tells Brian. He is often very defensive of his best friend, Brian, and admits to having some feelings for him. For example, when Justin and Brian split up, Michael tells Justin to get out of their lives.
Michael and Justin's comic Rage Volume One, Issue One is in print and Brian has a debut party to celebrate it. Michael and Justin have a fall out about Justin's affair with Ethan betraying Brian. Michael attempts to comfort Justin over his betrayal, but abruptly leaves the debut party at Babylon.
After asking Ben what to do concerning Brian and Justin, Michael irritates Brian when he confronts him about how Justin ran off with Ethan, and Brian punches him out while at Melanie and Lindsay's house. Brian makes it up to him with a gift, a first saying it was His mother's heart, but is actually expensive meat. Michael refuses to speak to Justin even after Brian insist on them getting back together for a second issue.
While at the diner, people at the diner ask about Michael's comic and when the next issue is going to come out. Brian also in the diner asks the same question following up some of the patrons. Michael attempts to go to Justin, whom is posting something in the diner and tells him how much a success their comic book is becoming. Justin declines working with him despite how successful their comic is.
Due to Justin leaving, Brian becomes more needy towards Michael. Ben moves in, and Brian comes over looking saddened. Ben suggests going out with him to cheer him up. Brian oversteps and attempts to hang out with Michael every night which almost leads Ben to move out. Later, Justin visits Michael at his comic book store with a suggestion for their new comic. When Michael asks why he changed his mind, Justin said what Brian said, "A deal's a deal." They become cordial again for the sake of creating more comics together.
Michael impressed Melanie and Lindsay on handling Brian's nephew, John Kinney, and later Gus at their place, and they come to him with surprising news that they want him to father their next child. He is excited and tells the news. Ben is excited for him, but is subtly saddened due to the fact he wanted to be a father, but his HIV status prevents him from becoming one. Ben starts to act out in roidrage especially when conversation of children comes up.
After a few attempts, Michael successfully gives a donation while at Ted's porn headquarters. He runs with the sample and gives it to Lindsay at their front door, Lindsay inseminates her with Michael's semen.
Ben's rage continues and they argue. Michael at first goes with Ben's usage seeing his muscle results, but when Ben continues to push him away and is upset about his ex partner's passing. Michael confronts him coming home, and has a needle in his hand pushing the idea that Ben needs someone "more like him" and pretends to proceed injecting himself with a used needle. When Ben tells him to stop, Michael shouts, "You stop! Stop hurting yourself and us!" Ben later apologizes and says Michael and him belong together.
Michael attempt to speak to Tracy to help his friend, Ted Schmidt, get hired there as an assistant bookkeeper. After that, Ted bugs Michael wondering what Tracy has said about hiring him. Michael tells him he didn't get the job because he is over qualified. Justin and Michael finally speak after Michael makes a comment on "Life imitating Art" and Justin confides in him saying that Brian loved him, but just not in the way he expected him to.
Michael follows Melanie around knowing she is pregnant, and she find it annoying. he complains wondering why she didn't have the bagger take the groceries to the car for her. Melanie insist that he stop following her around, and Lindsay, seeing how adamant she was insists that he agrees. Michael makes a false agreement just to clear the air, and continues to follow her until she actually needs his help and he takes her to the hospital. At the hospital, Ben is also there to tell him that Hunter is HIV positive like he is. When Michael tries to tell him it's not his responsibility, Ben is in contrary saying they are connected by blood. Michael relents.
They struggle to foster him due to him being such an independent, rebellious teenager. Hunter overhears Ben venting to Michael in frustration over him, and then Hunter cleans himself and his surroundings and tells them at their surprise that he has decided to go back to school. Due to enrolling in school, he is found by his unfit, estranged mother.
Hunter reacts badly when told that his mother has visited Ben and Michael. When asked for the reason for his reaction, he accuses his mother of having forced him to commit acts of prostitution from an early age. She becomes irate with Michael and Ben when they refuse to give Hunter's location. She gets the police involved and Michael makes a decision to flee with Hunter. They hire Melanie as their lawyer and they have the hearing. She does win custody initially, but the judge hears her callous and homophobic remarks regarding Hunter's HIV status "You dirty little faggot ... Are you trying to give it to me?", and awards custody to Ben and Michael.
Brian has accused Michael of being a conformist homosexual and bases this on Michael having a partner, a house, and an adopted son. While Michael feels that this was always what he wanted, Brian accuses him of being a traitor. This issue is an ongoing one in the gay community: some gay-rights activists complain that other gays are conforming to a heterosexual lifestyle (Such as adopting children and moving away from the gay friendly cities and into the more banal and conservative suburbs), thereby ignoring and rendering useless their plight against Conservativism.
In one of the final episodes, Michael is badly injured in a bomb explosion at the local gay nightclub, Babylon. He recovers and the series ends with him and Brian dancing in the burned out infrastructure of the building. However, as the camera tracks around them dancing, the destroyed club begins to transform to a restored Babylon, complete with people dancing and laser and strobe lights. The scene cuts to the out outside of Babylon, showing the long queue of people waiting to get in, this shows that Brian changed his decision to not rebuild Babylon. The camera returns to Brian and Michael dancing, while he narrates: So the "thumpa thumpa" continues. It always will. No matter what happens. No matter who's president. As our lady of Disco, the divine Miss Gloria Gaynor has always sung to us: We will survive.
- Main article: Debbie and Michael
The mother of main character Michael Novotny, Debbie plays a major role in her son's life. Debbie had Michael from later teenaged years, but prevail in raising him on her own resulting in a very close relationship between the two of them. When she realized he was gay, she became fiercely supportive and protective over him. She is very proud when Michael succeeds her in becoming an advocate of gay rights at the end.
This is one of the strongest of friendships in the entire series. They have known each other since they were fourteen years of age, had their first experiences together, and look at each other like brothers, even in Michael's mother's eyes.
In school, Brian has always stood up for Michael, helping him with homework, fending off bullies at school, and simply being there for him. They often read comics and magazines together
He is often very defensive of his best friend, Brian, and admits to having some feelings for him. For example, when Justin and Brian split up, Michael tells Justin to get out of their lives.
Towards the end of the series, they are at odds. While they have shared so many things, their opposite beliefs are put into action. Michael gets that stable household away from the transient LGBT community of Pittsburgh, a husband and family and seemingly leaving Brian behind. After a series arguments, Michael standing up to him about his beliefs, Brian is finally compelled to take more in consideration of what he really values in life.
- Main article: Michael and Ben
Their relationship symbolizes and consist of several great things of overcoming prejudices of HIV status, it challenges, embracing general differences and complimenting them, and a deep rooted unconditional love.
He is Michael's first customer of his comic book store. After hearing Michael's passion about comics, Ben invites him to speak at his class. They become romantically involved. After struggling with Ben's HIV status and the peer pressure of his friends and mother (mainly concerning Ben's HIV status) they rekindle their relationship.
Generally, Michael has learned valuable lessons from his prior relationship with David, and more than succeeds his relationship with Ben. Such as being more certain on issues and his opinions, his bravery, well-being and sacrifices for children, becoming domestic partners, and even making an investment on their first house.
During the final seasons, they marry in Canada on the bike marathon, adopt Hunter while they co parent with Melanie and Lindsay as fathers to Jenny Rebecca.
In the first season, Michael is jealous of Justin having won the attention and affections of Brian, albeit, he does look out for him as one of his own friends. They start a comic together called "Rage" during the second season which was their foundation for a solid friendship and strong work relationship.
When Justin and Brian split up, Justin started dating Ethan Gold in the later seasons, he was quick to call him out it, Michael tells Justin to get out of their lives. A few years later, Justin informs Michael of his health condition of cancer. Michael confessed to knowing which got Justin in trouble with Brian and ultimately kicked out. Justin throws back in Michael's face saying, "You wanted me gone from the beginning. You finally get your wish, Mikey."
In the final seasons, Justin is staying with Michael and Ben after they split up again since he has no place of his own. Justin listens to Michael stand up against Brian bluntly calling him out on him never affirming his love for him nor Justin while also standing up for his own beliefs on a steady household.
They are good friends as well as the biological parents for Jenny Rebecca Novotny-Marcus. They grow a closer bond when they become parents together. Melanie and Michael have great fall out about their daughter, but when both parties realize its about their daughter and not them, they reconcile their differences. Melanie lets her guard down mostly due to exhaustion and need the help to take care of their daughter as she is seen at Michael's housewarming. Michael eventually agrees to Melanie caring primarily for her until she get older towards the last episodes.
He becomes Michael roommate and best friend as an adult after two years of living together in an apartment. Emmett always has supporting word for Michael considering his relationships with David and Ben and think he has great taste in men.
Michael and Ted became good friends based on their mutual compassion understanding of one another, but Ted has acquired a crush on Michael during the first of the series. The crush manifest into a stronger friendship throughout the series.
His younger adoptive father. At first, Michael is very unwilling to take him in, but as he sees Ben take a bond to him, he relents and they let him stay. Due to his prior relationship with David and how good he was with Hank, he is more confident on caring for children. He has made sacrifices for Hunter for the sake of his well being, but also knows how to balance keeping a firm hand on him and spoiling him due to Michael keeping a healthy degree of his youth. Michael is possibly one of the most grounded figures of his life. Where he is his second father, he is the parent that has more of the mothering traits that Hunter needs growing up.
They are friends and a former one-sided love interest on her side. While he likes and befriends her, Michael unintentionally leads Tracy on with much peer pressure when trying to get the promotion within the Big Q. During his 30th birthday party, the scandal is reveal leaving Tracy angered. Tracy stands up against Marley, a coworker, for Michael when she says gay jokes. Just before she puts in her resignation notice, Michael explains and apologizes to her about what happened. She forgives him and they continue to be friends.
- "You will always be young, and you will always be beautiful. You're Brian Kinney, for fuck's sake!" -to Brian
- "Well, he can't have you, you're mine." - to David
- "Which you can afford to do. I can't. I don't have an office, or diploma, and anything available for two weeks until Tuesday. I don't even have my own bathroom, but if I just tell the truth, I probably never will." - to David
- "..but when you spend your life keeping it a secret, who you really are, you learn to stop trusting people and it becomes second nature." -to Tracy
- He is portrayed by Hal Sparks.
- Michael has loved comics and superheroes since a young age.
- Ben fits exactly his physical type that he reads in comics: Having the build of a super hero in person.
- He is generally very adored by babies, children and teenagers due to his natural smirk and his youthful demeanor.
- His actual adopted son, Hunter, is the same age as Hank, who would've become his adoptive son if he and David married.
- Michael is the character who started the story in the series premiere, as well as the character who voiced the last line in the show's finale. That way, he closed the circle.