I don’t like reality television. Frankly, I find it trite and uninteresting; it has the worst music that mostly consists of weird jingles synchronized with character’s glares at one another or at the camera. I do find some of the more zany (and most likely more fabricated) reality T.V. shows like Baggage with Jerry Springer, or My Strange Addiction, hilarious by how insane they are. Unfortunately, I still leave those shows with a sense of guilt. The amount of shaming and othering these shows feature leaves me feeling a little grimy. As a writer and someone who loves fiction, there’s a level of realness to these shows you just can’t make up, and I can appreciate that. So when I heard the palpable praise of Netflix original’s Queer Eye, I was hesitant to watch it. Little did I know, it would soon become one of my favorite shows, not just by how entertaining it is, but because of how good I felt after watching each and every episode of the new Fab 5’s adventures.
Debuting on Bravo in 2003, and running until 2007, Queer Eye, was originally titled, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It was a makeover show featuring five Queer men who are experts of five different pillars used to transform drab to fab. On the new Queer Eye, this new generation is tackling their un-stylized guests in the same fashion.
The new Fab 5 consists of Karamo Brown, (expert in culture), using his skillset to enhance the confidence of each guest on the show. He makes connections as to why friends might have nominated these guests to be on the show to ultimately make the inside of the guest match what the other four are doing to the outside. Antoni Porowski’s job, (as food and wine expert), is to indentify the eating habits of each guest and make adjustments. This goes beyond making eating habits healthier, it’s another way for each guest to be fueled with more confidence, or to give them the skills they can then use to entertain others, (and in many cases start making better food for themselves).
One of the first things the Fab 5 do in an episode is blindside the guest upon arrival and start rummaging through their home. This is where Bobby Berk comes in: design expert. Bobby changes each guest’s home into something that meets a function or desire from, “I want to entertain guests,” to “My fire department lounge looks like a grungy dad-den.” These transformations are magnificent and will make you look at your own living space a little bit differently. Tan France, (expert in fashion), wants to reinvent each guest’s entire wardrobe. His approach isn’t to dress the guest in things against their will; instead, he elevates the best aspects of each guest’s aesthetics. Last but certainly not least, the electrifying, the hilarious, (expert in personal grooming): Jonathan Van Ness. Jonathan’s portion of each episode is some of the real highlights of the show. His education on what products to use, not to use, and when, is as excellent as his ability to mold the guest’s physical appearance into what is possibly the best looking version of themselves.
What really kept me coming back to Queer Eye was simply how good it made me feel. The Fab 5 never tear down their guests or make them hate themselves for their previous lifestyle choices. Sure they joke around and tease, but it genuinely feels like they are there to help. The show is simply positive. The connections these men make with their guests is heartwarming, hearing their stories, insecurities, and reasons they fall in or out of love, these conversations are interwoven into what the Fab 5 do to transform these men’s lives.
Over the course of this season, some of the adversity each guest needs to conquer is breaking down some seeded insecurity, something the guest thinks is externally keeping him from fully being himself. Without spoiling specifics, there are episodes where the Fab 5 helps guests overcome hurdles (like not having enough confidence to ask someone out on a date, or helping a closeted gay man gain the bravery to come out to his family). The Fab 5 uses the super power of Queer to help these men break out of the toxic paradigms that contain them. The Fab 5 are loud and proud, they aren’t afraid of what anyone thinks of them, and they endow each guest with that same super power.
In the term ‘LGBTQ,’ the ‘Q’ is at the end of the acronym to act as an umbrella that encompasses the rest. The definition of the word Queer, to be ‘strange or odd,’ now culturally refers to people who don’t conform to the norms of society. What Queer Eye does for these men is makeover their lives with a little bit of Queer culture. As a man who grew up straight in America, I can speak to the fears surrounding simple things like, adding more color to your wardrobe, putting product in your hair, or even buying skinny jeans because duh, it slims your overall body shape while still giving you room in the waist. It’s simple stuff and millions of men do it, (gay or straight), but for a lot of men, there’s an anxiety to it. Queer Eye attempts to break down that anxiety while still keeping you, you. If you’re reading this review and haven’t watched the show yet, you’re in for a treat. Just be warned: your home and wardrobe might be going under renovations very soon.
Robert has a degree in Screenwriting and Playwriting and works in multiple genres. He's just your typical man-child who enjoys most things nerd culture. You can follow him on Twitter @RoBaeBae