If that song doesn’t immediately ignite a sense of joy within you what even are you DOING with your life??
HELLO HENNIES. On February 7th, 2018, the most significant day of February 2018 without a doubt, Netflix dropped EIGHT GLORIOUS NEW EPISODES OF THE REBOOT OF “QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY,” abbreviated to “Queer Eye” to be more inclusive and hell yeah, 2018. I found out about it from the genius Netflix marketing campaign known as 5-of-my-friends-texting-me-to-see-if-I-had-seen-the-new-Queer-Eye-reboot-yet. It’s very effective marketing.
The original “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” was on Bravo from 2003-2007, adding a little joojsgh to the hapless East Coast straight dudes of Dubya-era America. The 2018 reboot puts the Fab Five in the very conservative bowels of Atlanta, to “Make America Fabulous Again.”
It might not be the show we deserve, but it’s the show we need.
Much as the original five, Carson Kressley, Ted Allen, Jai Rodriguez, Tom Something, and KYAN will always hold a special place in my heart, the reboot casting could not be more on point. It’s five men who represent different and complex walks of gay life, and it’s exciting to see more types of men represented in the media. That sounds sassy, the world probably doesn’t need another man represented in anything for the rest of time, but there is significance to seeing more men who are gay and black, men who are gay and religious, and men who are wearing bandana headbands and army fatigue onesies.
There’s Bobby Berk, home redecorating specialist, here to have the hard conversations with you about where homosexuality fits in with Christianity and clear all the shit out of your house while framing all the pictures of your loved ones you keep meaning to put up. Seriously Bobby, please come to my apartment and do this. Can there be a “Queer Eye for the Kinsey-Scale 2 Gal”?
There’s Tan France, FASHION. His beautiful silver hair is as tall as how low his shirts are unbuttoned, and he will make you want to wear all the prints and speak in a debatedly Liverpudlian accent. He’s Muslim, and does the most amazing Miss India walk you will ever see.
There’s Antoni Porowski, food and wine, center of major internet conspiracies wondering if he can even cook, and subject of a New York Times article from today titled “Antoni Porowski Can Cook.” He’s great at holding avocados, and space for fragile men!
There’s Karamo Brown, CULTURE. Which is DEFINITELY a thing. He was on the Real World, and has the best chiseled facial hair I’ve ever seen. He can have the tough conversations about being a man who’s black and gay, including the crux of the entire series which puts him in a car with a man who’s a southern and white cop.
And last, but certainly not least, there’s JONATHAN VAN NESS, who lives his life in capital letters. When a friend asked me who my favorite one was, I responded, you know, that one with the beard, who’s a bit much, but I’m into it? You might know JVN from his Funny or Die show “Gay of Thrones,” in which he recaps Game of Thrones episodes while doing people’s hair. He’s on hair and grooming, and I love him for his embracing of body hair and also referring to all people and inanimate objects as “she.”
This show… I don’t know how they do it, the combination of pathos and ethos and eros makes for the most goddamn delightful 45 minute experience you can have. It’s five fantastic TV personalities doing emotional labor for men barely hanging on to the confines of masculinity, with deeply effective producing decisions where they can like, box out their feelings, or be firemen dancing for charity. I would realize around minute 30 in every episode that I had a huge, doofy grin on my face. I never knew I could smile so large while sobbing so hard at the same time.
This show makes me want to be a better man.
It’s kind of like what I wished the “Will and Grace” reboot was like, which yes I’ve watched it, and yes I’m embarrassed to admit this in front of my hip Chicago crowd. Like, it feels like we went back in time, and all our old friends are there, but somehow it’s updated for what today’s world is actually like. “Will and Grace” makes me feel like, these actors don’t age. But how are sitcoms still around?
But back to Queer Eye - I only have one qualm with an otherwise flawless franchise. There’s an inherent misogyny to it - it’s only for men. The original series had a short-lived spin-off called “Queer Eye for the Straight Girl,” and I do truly believe the world will truly be a better place the more men just get… better, but it’s interesting to grapple with why this show feels good, why it’s successful. What is it that feels safer to produce and develop shows about men than it is to put that energy towards women in a way that isn’t pandering? BUT, the show takes the angle of making these men better usually for the sake of the women in their lives, which has it passing a sort of reverse Bechdel test if you will - you CAN go into the kitchen and make a meal, you CAN put a little effort into your appearance, you CAN have the hard conversations with the women in your family that will make your life more fulfilling and richer.
This show got me to finish some home improvement projects I’ve been putting off, and care a little more about making sure I don’t know my nails look nice and my outfits are thought out. I pitted an avocado with confidence. I kind of want to buy a Waterpik (though I suspect that one was purely product placement and they didn’t actually give a shit if AJ flossed or not). If you start watching this show, you too might find yourself wanting to care for yourself a little more, and you’ll have five brand new people you’ll have to follow on Instagram because goddamn are these modern day celebrities good at what they do. Eight episodes weren’t nearly enough and I need another season like, stat. Please come to Chicago, Fab Five. We’ll welcome you with open arms and we can drink the alcoholic sangria together you definitely accidentally served to children in that Bobby Camp episode. Then we’ll drive off into the sunset in our black SUV together, to hang out in our Fab Five Loft that we all just now live in together, amongst the exposed bricks and monochromed outfits, cuddled up in front of our one big TV, cheering on the men in our lives. They didn’t think they could like a gay guy so much, and we didn’t think we could like a conservative southern straight guy as much either. And here we all are. America.
© COPYRIGHT 2021 ALISA ROSENTHAL.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.