I loved the first Queer Eye. Back in 2005 five guys showing straight men how to dress, make a home and generally shape up whilst helping to tackle prejudice used to brighten up my early mornings as a new mum.
13 years later and the mother of an almost teenager, I approached the idea of Netflix’s reboot with trepidation. The gay community has changed, and I wasn’t sure that the format could withstand the test of time, not to mention the levels of political correctness requisite in modern formatting.
A period of enforced bed rest meant I decided to give it a go and I’m delighted to say I was wrong to be worried.
They have made some changes – it’s not Queer Eye for the Straight Guy anymore, just Queer Eye in keeping with the change made in the third series of the original run when they started working with gay men and women too.
They have made concessions to ethnicity with a strong focus in a few episodes on how colour and culture can provide additional barriers to happiness for men looking to find their way in the world, both gay and straight.
I’m delighted to say I was wrong to be worried.
I’ve read many criticisms that this diversity doesn’t go far enough – some in the community would like a trans man, or someone less ‘visually appealing’ would be more representative, but I think the balance for this series is ok, although there’s certainly room to push further in the future.
The new ‘fab 5’, Bobby, Karamo, Tan, Antoni and Jonathon stick to the original format in that they are handsome, each skilled in his own way and really good fun, but the new format digs far deeper into their stories, by carefully pairing them with their opposites.
Bobby, who grew up in the church works with a deeply religious man. Karamo, a gorgeous black man with a grown-up son has an amazing conversation with a cop about racism and policing – a very challenging topic in the US right now. Tan talks about trying to win his mother’s praise despite not marrying a woman to an IT tech struggling to find his way.
In short, as they say, ‘the original show looked for tolerance, we want acceptance’ and they do it very well by highlighting the similarities between us, as opposed to the differences.
There’s a less schmaltzy, more genuine vibe to this series that really separates it out, not only from the original but also most ‘makeover’ shows on TV.
If I’ve made it sound a little worthy though, don’t be alarmed. These guys are a bundle of fun and each episode is a massive riot with some big laughs. I challenge anyone not to finish each episode feeling packed with joy.
Right now, the rest of the world sees America as deeply divided; an angry nation pulling itself apart. Could the Fab 5 be the team to show it how to come back together?
It could certainly do worse than to pay the messages in this big-hearted romp of a series serious attention.