The New ‘Queer Eye’: A Fight For Acceptance, Rather Than Tolerance
Karen Song | March 9, 2018, 8:58 a.m.
In February, Netflix premiered the new “Queer Eye,” a revival of the original American reality television series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which aired 2003-2007 on cable network Bravo.
By March, the show had garnered the attention of the masses, earning a 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes and receiving high acclaim from critics. It’s not hard to see why.
The show features five fashionable, hilarious, and caring gay men known as The Fab Five who work tirelessly throughout each episode to transform their subject for the week in almost every way — from fashion, grooming, and interior design, to food and culture.
On the surface level, it’s an enjoyable makeover show that can make you fall out of your chair laughing and crying uncontrollably at the same time. A closer examination of the show reveals a much greater message that resonates with Americans and breaks barriers that many reality shows have been unable to do in the past.
In one of the most talked-about episodes of the season, “Dega Don’t,” we are introduced to Corey, a white police officer with a love for the stock-car racing company NASCAR, a bland sense of style, and most importantly, a garage full of Trump campaign merchandise.
Karamo Brown, a black man and the culture expert of the Fab Five, shares a heartfelt moment with Corey on a long drive, during which they discuss the pervasive tension between black people and white cops.
The conversation evolves into a larger discussion of the Black Lives Matter versus Blue Lives Matter movement and concludes on the note that the first step toward improving American society is to have discussions.
“If we could sit down and have a conversation like you and I just did, things would be a lot better, you know, in society,” Corey said in the third episode of the new show. “Everybody wants to talk, but nobody wants to listen.”
The two acknowledged each other’s stories and voiced their opinions candidly, bridging two opposite sides of the political spectrum and resulting in an unlikely friendship that continues today.
The new hosts not only excel in their knowledge of their respective areas, but find a way to reach out to their subjects in a vulnerable and understanding manner.
Even the toughest men break down in tears by the end of the week. As a result, the show makes a greater social commentary on the toxic masculinity that still shapes much of our culture, especially in a conservative state such as Georgia where the show takes place.
In almost every episode, the hosts underscore the message that taking care of yourself and wanting to look good or feel confident does not make you any less masculine. This is most evidently highlighted in the episode “To Gay or Not Too Gay,” featuring a closeted gay man, AJ, who aims to come out to his stepmother by the end of the episode.
Though AJ approaches the week with caution, stating time and time again that he is afraid to step out of his comfort zone with fashion or grooming because society will box him into the category of an effeminate gay man, he concludes his week with The Fab Five with a renewed sense of confidence — and a fresh look.
“I’m hoping that you’ll spend a lot more time with us this week and really get used to the fact that you being your true self isn’t going to offend anybody,” Tan France, the fashion expert of The Fab Five, said in the episode four of the revival. “It’s very unlikely people are going to cause you an issue just because you’re being yourself. And if they’re concerned, that’s on them. You’re happy.”
The new “Queer Eye” is not only a perfect show for our cultural moment, but also a heartwarming and entertaining reality show for all genders, ages, sexualities, ethnicities, and sociocultural backgrounds.