Looking at the World Through a New (Queer) Eye | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Looking at the World Through a New (Queer) Eye

TV Critic Morgana Chess gives her point of view on Netflix's reboot of the makeover show Queer Eye

Netflix’s Queer Eye is everything that the world needs right now. It is a glitzy, fabulous bundle of joy that somehow manages to avoid being sickeningly sweet and instead provides the perfect dose of fuzzy and feel-good. The concept is simple: a group of five gay men (dubbed the ‘Fab 5’) give a life makeover to a hapless straight guy, who is somehow stuck in a rut and lacking in self-confidence. This group of considerably more fashionable homosexuals offer life advice ranging from grooming tips to interior design, and impart their sparkly, effeminate wisdom to a straight man who is, of course, incapable of dressing himself. At least, these are the more simplistic stereotypes that were played out in the original noughties show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

The 2018 release confronts stereotypes and prejudices
Netflix’s new reboot offers something more nuanced. Whilst maintaining the show’s fundamental premise, and all the glam that entails, the 2018 release confronts stereotypes and prejudices as the gang meet everyone from rednecks to socially awkward non-starters to Trump supporters, and they all come to a greater place of understanding each other. The show celebrates breaking down boundaries and as Tan, the fashion guru, sagely puts it, "Just because you make an effort with your wardrobe doesn’t make you a wuss".

Prepare to fall in love with the Fab 5, who each have a specialty on which they advise: first we have Antoni, the food-and-wine guy with a charming smile and a taste for guacamole; then Tan, the stylist, who recoils at the sight of cargo shorts at least once an episode whilst extolling the virtues of a good slim-fit chino; Bobby covers interior design, and provides us with hugely satisfying house makeover scenes; then there’s Jonathan, who is almost beyond explanation, as the glamour princess of the group with sass and hair flicks galore; and finally Karamo, the group’s lifestyle coach with ridiculous cheekbones, who develops a signature move in the form of a long car journey to talk through serious issues.

The viewer can physically see prejudices on both sides breaking down and that’s part of what makes the show such a cathartic pleasure to watch
The most poignant of these is his conversation with the white cop and Trump supporter Cory in Episode Three, discussing the tense relations between police officers and the black community. The viewer can physically see prejudices on both sides breaking down and that’s part of what makes the show such a cathartic pleasure to watch. Karamo says "I’m not saying a conversation with one police officer and one gay guy is going to solve [our country’s] problems, but maybe it can open up eyes" and that’s all the show is trying to do. We hear a bit about the group’s coming-out stories but it’s not a show about gay men and straight men; it’s about embracing different forms of masculinity. With all the toxic masculinity going about at the moment (Trump, Weinstein, rising male suicide rates...), Queer Eye brings some important conversations to the fore. But the show doesn’t strive to be political or pull at the heartstrings, it’s just a hoot.

The charm comes from the group’s undeniable chemistry, as they fly into someone’s life like five gay magical pixies, nurture them into reaching their full potential, and then retreat to their fairy kingdom (a trendy loft in Georgia). It’s the makeover scene in a rom-com multiplied by ten, with some actual substance and a load of entertainment. Particularly powerful is Episode Four where the group give AJ the confidence to finally come out to his stepmother and make peace with who he is. I have genuinely laughed and cried watching this show and am ready to do it all over again; series two is already in production and the Fab 5 are ready for another round of stylish, feel-good fun.

@morganachess // TV editor // Final year English Literature student


10th May 2018 at 9:00 am

Last Updated

11th May 2018 at 11:01 am

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