My brain is often overtired from working. I have a mortgage to pay and four high maintenance cats that can outspend any reality star mistress that when I sit down to Netflix and chill, I am no longer in the mood to watch heavy stuff. I need trash, preferably uplifting trash.
Enter Queer Eye. This Netflix reboot of the Bravo series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy sends five fabulous (and “gorgina” — as Jonathan Van Ness, one of the Queer Eye’s Fab Five calls it) gay guys to help hapless (mostly) straight guys get their life together. But unlike your run-of-the-mill makeover show, what makes Queer Eye so special is that the Fab Five don’t just come and invade the lives of these men to tell them what’s wrong with their lives and how they can fix it. No. Instead of doing the usual “here’s what’s wrong with you honey” spiel that most makeover shows thrive on, Queer Eye sees what’s good and special about each individual they work on (they call them “heroes”, how great is that?) and bring it out for the whole world to see.
In the first episode, they help out lonely dump-truck driver Tom whose favorite saying is “you can’t fix ugly,” and instead of confirming Tom’s worst fears about himself, the Fab Five sees what’s beautiful about “ugly Tom”: his big ol’ heart, his love for his daughter and grandson, his kindness and openness – and use their makeover only as a tool to help Tom see how truly beautiful he really is.
The Fab Five aren’t the only ones who exemplify kindness and acceptance. The devout Christian they help out in episode 5 is so loving and accepting of who they are, that the Fab Five themselves are at a loss for words.
But by far the best episode of the season is episode 4, when the Fab Five helps a closeted gay man, A.J. to come out to his stepmom, because they do more than just give him a makeover and helpful “coming out” tips, they share their lives with A.J. and show him that real acceptance must come from the inside. Love yourself first, and the rest of the world will follow.
Queer Eye is not a perfect show, and like most reality makeover shows, it does tend to oversimplify really complex matters. In episode 3 when they try to tackle Black Lives Matter by having the African-American member of the Fab Five, Karamo Brown, sit down for a conversation about that very matter with a white cop they’re helping. There’s nothing wrong with the whole conversation itself, but the way it’s quickly wrapped up and tied nicely with a little bow kind of gives the impression that all it takes is some loving makeover to solve something as serious as racism and police violence – which I don’t think is the message it should be sending.
At the heart of it though, it’s a show that promotes kindness and I think that’s what the world is lacking right about now. The Fab Five proves that kindness is ultimately sexy, and the show leaves you with a little bit of hope of what the world can look like if we can just be kind to ourselves, and each other. And it’s absolutely fabulous, baby.
Binky Bee is an author, freelance copywriter and a self-professed TV junkie. When she's not writing or watching TV, she's usually taking care of her four cats and taking a nap. Binky Bee lives in Jakarta, Indonesia but dreams of moving to Montreal soon so she can get universal healthcare.