We Needed Queer Eye in 2018

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I didn’t think I’d be addicted to Queer Eye, let alone enjoy it. I remember when the original show came on back in 2003 but I don’t think I watched more than a few episodes. I was just a kid. I didn’t understand what it meant to be gay or straight, really. I knew the hosts liked other men but that wasn’t really an odd thought for me. Maybe at first it seemed a little strange to a ten-year-old, but I just accepted it. The show didn’t click with me though; I was watching Dragonball Z, whatever was on Nickelodeon, and the early seasons of Survivor and the Amazing Race. I wasn’t interested in watching some dude transform his life thanks to five gay men. And even now, at twenty-four, it’s not something I’d normally click on through my extensive scroll through Netflix. But yesterday I did, and yesterday I watched half the season.

Maybe it was only having four hours sleep the night before, or the little hangover I was trying to battle with my box of KFC, but I just needed something to throw on the TV that I could zone out to. The Queer Eye reboot was the first thing that Netflix suggested I watch. Now I don’t usually take recommendations from highly sophisticated algorithms on my TV, mainly because I know it’s not accurate thanks to my partner watching Gilmore Girls, 27 Dresses and other uninteresting shows on my account. But I clicked on Queer Eye. What the hell, I’ve give this thing a gander.

The first episode was heart-warming. Yes, there’s one ‘overly gay’ guy out of the Fab Five and he can be a bit over the top, but all five of the guys have great chemistry together on screen. I get the feeling that these guys are already best mates and not thrown together to tick off stereotypical boxes like what was possibly the case in the early 2000s. The group of guys in the reboot don’t need to play into the ‘gay stereotype’ as if that’s the reason why people are watching the show. I’m reading into this situation, as well as the show, as a heterosexual white male, so I don’t understand the struggles of the homosexual community, but I do know that the world is a completely different place than what it was back in 2003. We have UberEats for one. But, in a way, the world isn’t much better.

Back in ’03, the world was in a heightened state of fear and paranoia: we were still mourning 911, the War on Terror was kicking into forty-fifth gear, and the legendary singer-songwriter Johnny Cash passed away. Same-sex marriage was not legal in the States, the first law providing same-sex marriage in modern times was only enacted three years prior in the Netherlands. The United States had to wait twelve more years, Australia waited fourteen. It seems out of place that the United States in 2003 would push forward and promote a series where five gay men do a complete life makeover on one straight man. A series where the gay men hold the power. A series that became an instant classic and would continue its original run for four years.

In 2018 more countries have acknowledged and legalised same sex marriage. Gay culture isn’t taboo anymore, its embraced and treated with the same respect as ‘straight culture’. At least by the majority. In saying that, the world in 2018 is in a heightened state of fear and paranoia: the most powerful man on the planet, with the codes to his country’s weapons of mass destruction, tweets unintelligent fighting words to a man who believes he’s the most powerful man on the planet who holds his country’s codes to weapons of mass destruction. The term ‘War on Terror’ isn’t as widely used anymore, but there’s still a war going on in the Middle East, and the Cranberries singer, Dolores O’Riordan passed away. And a reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy premieres on Netflix to critical success.

There’s a structure to each episode that is comforting, you know what you are going to get once you finish the first forty minutes. When I finished the first episode I was a bit teary, I won’t deny that, and that trend hasn’t broken after finishing the fourth episode. Here’s this scuffled, grizzly hillbilly who’s had his life transformed thanks to five homosexual men. The idea is simple on paper, but thanks to the multiple personalities in the show, Queer Eye centres in on what it means to be a man in 2018. Whether it’s a scuffled old man who drinks tequila and Mountain Dew, or a quiet, reserved black man who is struggling to come out to his step mum.

The show doesn’t play into stereotypes either. If anything, Queer Eye is breaking down those stereotypes. These gay men don’t have to act and dress feminine to prove they are homosexual. They act like themselves whether that’s flamboyant and colourful or gentle and modest. The show embraces and promotes positivity, the moral of the show is to be proud and confident with who you are. Yes, they do a little bit of TLC, but there wouldn’t be much of a show without that. Queer Eye is positive, entertaining, addictive and one of the most emotional shows I’ve seen in a long time. It reaffirms what it means to be masculine in 2018, regardless of your sexual preference, and teaches you what it means to be a modern man. It’s kind of what we need in 2018.

OFF AIR is my informal blog post, usually unfiltered and roughly edited.

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