You may remember back in the early 2000s, a little show called Queer Eye for the Straight Guy launched itself into the collective public psyche.
Back then, being gay wasn’t as acceptable as it in today’s western culture. Discrimination, hate speech, and judgments still exist, but back then being gay was still very much seen as being ‘other’ – separate from the rest of society and living a lifestyle was that was often seen as abnormal. Stereotypes against gay people were also rife during this time.
The assumption that all gay men had to dress well, act ‘feminine,’ and flaunt flamboyant personalities was one that dominated popular culture – it’s hardly surprising then that Queer Eye decided to use this stereotype and make it a means to point out to straight men just how poor their lifestyles were.
The original show ended back in 2007, but this month Netflix added eight new episodes of Queer Eye to their catalogue of TV shows and movies.
There’s a new Fab Five to steer the clueless (and often straight men) in the right direction, but the general concept of the show remains the same.
The five guys – experts in all things fashion, food, grooming, design, and culture – meet one different man every week.
The man in question has been nominated for the show by a friend or family member who thinks that they need a bit of a makeover – whether that be in the looks department, their social interactions, their lifestyle, or just how they live their day-to-day lives.
If you have yet to delve into the show, you might be forgiven for thinking that it’s just another reality programme clutching to the ugly duckling narrative, trying to pass it off as something a bit more current.
But it’s not. It’s so much more than that.
In the new series’ first episode, the Fab Five meet Tom.
Tom’s had three failed marriages, lives alone in a small apartment, and still acutely pines for the love of his latest ex-wife.
He also describes himself as a redneck, and even though he acknowledges that the guys might be able to change how he dresses, he tells them: “you can’t fix ugly.”
Tom, like most of the men featured on Quee Eye, has some insecurities.
And without risking spoiling the episode entirely, let’s just say that by the end of his week with the Fab Five, Tom hasn’t just been given a makeover – he’s been given a whole new lease of life, he’s made a few new friends, and he’s allowed himself to express his fears and anxieties in ways that may not have been possible before.
Similar payoffs seem to occur at the end of most of the new series’ episodes.
There’s tears, there’s surprises, there’s a patchwork blanket that will make you absolutely bawl your eyes out.
It’s not just the men who’ve been nominated who learn some new things about themselves either.
Throughout the episodes, members of the Fab Five also go on a few self-reflective journies of their own – whether it’s about their views of police officers, their relationship to fashion, or their identities as gay men of Pakistani descent.
There is nothing that Queer Eye doesn’t have to make it an entertaining, fun, honest, and essentially, a beautiful reality TV show.
All Netflix need to do now is add another 80 or so episodes to keep us all happy and we’ll be good to go.