This weekend, in the midst of an overdose of chocolate eggs, I decided to binge the Netflix show, Queer Eye – a reboot of popular ‘00s programme, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. The show follows the same premise as the original series (which I must admit I never watched) and sees five guys perform a makeover for someone in need of a little guidance in life.
The reason I binge-watched Queer Eye this weekend, rather than binge-watched the latest season of A Series of Unfortunate Events or undertook yet another marathon run of The Real Ghostbusters, is because I’ve heard good things about Queer Eye. Having now watched six of the eight episodes that form the first season, I’m happy to say all the things I’ve heard are true – the show is great!
Actually, I’m going to go one better than just confirm that Queer Eye is great by saying it’s fantastic. In fact, everyone should watch Queer Eye.
As noted above, the premise is quite simple: A team of guys – collectively known as the ‘Fab Five’ – perform a makeover on one person, who has been nominated to take part in the show. Each member of the team brings something different to the table (fashion, food, lifestyle etc) and by the end of the session, the aim is to provide a makeover that isn’t about quick fixes, but instead about providing advice and skills that can truly enrich a person’s life.
When first approaching this show I was a bit dubious, as I thought it would be another half-arsed reality show which is all sheen and no substance. I also thought it was likely to be a programme in which five gay guys try and remake a straight guy in their image.
I could not have been more wrong.
First and foremost, Queer Eye is not a vapid, hollow reality series which has nothing to say – in fact it has plenty to say. Throughout the course of the episodes I’ve watched, the series has touched upon racial tensions, including a talk about the Black Lives Matter movement; it’s focused on religion and how blind faith can create divisions amongst a country (and the world); it’s presented a love story between a divorced husband and wife; and it’s highlighted the importance of family, regardless of whether that family is biological or not.
Perhaps one of the biggest eye-openers came during the episode Dega Don’t, when the team are tasked with providing a makeover for a Trump-supporting chief of police in Winder, Georgia. Going into the episode there were a whole bunch of preconceptions about what this guy was going to be like, based on who he supports, what he does for a living etc, but all those preconceptions were blown out of the water by episode’s end.
The episode demonstrated, quite clearly, that different viewpoints could exist and it’s not a bad thing. Dialogue is key and can easily break down barriers between people from different walks of life – we just need to talk and listen.
The second, and just as equally important aspect of the show is the makeover itself. Queer Eye is not (and I repeat NOT) a show where gay guys repackage straight men in their image. The team who work on this show, take their knowledge, their experience and their know-how not to change the person being made over, but to enhance what they already have to offer.
The team understand that everyone is different and everyone has individual needs – this isn’t a cookie cutter kind of show – so when they dish out advice, they do it in a mindful way. Sure, the makeovers often include the provision of expensive furniture and designer clothes, not something the average Joe can afford, but that’s merely to start them off – the real gold comes from the tips they leave behind which help the makeovers continue on whatever budget is available.
For example, in one episode, it’s noted that a family of eight (two parents and six kids) use the same shampoo because it’s the cheapest and most convenient way to wash everyone’s hair, even if it doesn’t meet the needs of all the hair types in the family. So, after a bit of research, the advice offered up is to switch to a different brand that can still be bought in bulk (and isn’t too expensive), but is a more rounded brand that can cater for different hair types. Simple advice; useful change.
It’s solutions like this which are offered up throughout the show, which demonstrate that this is about providing a makeover for life, not just for the purposes of entertainment. It’s about changing viewpoints, opening up new opportunities and presenting a fresh way of thinking.
The third strength of Queer Eye is the way in which all of the would-be makeoverees are all receptive to change – this isn’t a show where everyone is arguing or being dismissive for dramatic effect. This is a show where positivity is important; where shining a light on what doesn’t work can lead to new beginnings; and where change can be small but impactful.
Just watching Queer Eye made me think about the way I see the world and all the different viewpoints that are offered up. I struggle with change, I work best with routine and I don’t always listen to advice – Queer Eye is the type of show which makes me reconsider my approach.
Does watching the show make me a new person? No, of course not. However, watching it is a positive experience that highlights we can all be better with a little help.
As noted in the episode The Renaissance of Remington, “I think we all might be a little stuck.” Perhaps with more shows like Queer Eye, we can see how simple and happy life can be if we can find a way to become unstuck. Now who doesn’t want to be happy and unstuck?
Season One of Queer Eye is currently available to stream on Netflix. The show has already been commissioned for a second season.