Makeover shows used to be extremely popular. Back before reality T.V. was just following people around whether they were interesting or not, it had a lot to do with real people making drastic changes to their homes or wardrobes in an almost game show like setting. Stacy and Clinton became the go to people when it came to “what not to wear,” ripping people’s wardrobes to pieces and teaching them how to shop, what to buy and how to wear things in order to feel better about themselves and be taken seriously in their lives. Despite what your mother may have told you, people see what’s on the outside first, and many of these shows were set up to address that fact.
Enter Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, affectionately known by just Queer Eye for its adoring fans. The show operated under the premise that some men, specifically the straight ones, could stand to benefit from the knowledge of their gay brethren. It assembled a team of gay men to teach their subjects about clothing, grooming, home decor, etc., and quickly remade them. While the premise might seem a little bit backward and hokey to the modern viewer, the show did a lot to demonstrate to their makeover show loving audience that gay people are just people. The world fell in love with the cast of gay men and through them were more able to accept other gay people in their communities. Some thought the show perpetuated stereotypes, some thought it was not the best use of screen time for gay people trying to send a message to the world and others though it was just really fun.
The show ended around the same time a lot of shows of that nature did, when people got bored with the weekly makeovers and shows about celebrities — whose lives the world will always find to be inherently more interesting than those of the masses — became the norm. Shows about real people focused instead on the housing market, or on following specific people with specific talents, and the world moved on.
2016-17 saw a wave of nostalgia hit the world. Bands from the 90s got back together, T.V. shows rebooted, and fashion added a little bit of that 90s grunge back into its repertoire. Everybody started getting sick of the current state of the world and did what they always do: they looked back to a ‘simpler,’ ‘happier’ time. Netflix has given us a wave of ‘Netflix Originals’ that address that nostalgia, including a reboot of Queer Eye which takes the show’s original premise to a whole other level. The show’s cast are somehow just as amazing as the original, with Jonathan on grooming, Tan focusing on fashion, Antoni teaching about food and alcohol, Karamo on culture, and Bobby taking charge of interior design.
Queer Eye addresses all kinds of social issues in its eight episode run, including Black Lives Matter, the loneliness of modern life, and toxic masculinity.
The show is powerful and tear inducing and shows us that men can and do feel, and those feelings should be addressed in a public space. There is no one way to be a man. Who would have thought a makeover show that is really just a reboot of an early 2000s gimmick would be so meaningful. Reality TV can help us make connections to real people when it’s done right, and this throwback to unscripted, un-famous people helps us all feel a little less lonely in this world of screens and seclusion.
As of publication, Netflix had not yet announced whether the show would continue on for a second season, but here’s hoping. The world needs this show.
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