queer eye

Netflix's "Queer Eye" Is the Perfect Feel-Good Reality Show for Everyone by Keith LaFountaine

I am not someone who tends to enjoy reality shows. Except for the occasional Gordon Ramsay show or old re-runs of Ghost Hunters that I watched when I was a kid, I tend not to watch any reality television simply because I don’t tend to like it. The main reason I dislike reality television is because it feels fake. As a filmmaker, I can tell when emotion is being elicited or edited in, rather than organically integrated. American television is especially guilty of this.

Yet here I am, about to praise and laud a reality show for being both honest and realistic.

Queer Eye is not the kind of show I would seek out on my own. When I was introduced to it by my girlfriend and our friends I was initially skeptical. After all, I don’t like reality television and I really don’t like makeover shows — they’re just not my thing. Yet Queer Eye approaches these genres with a fresh eye and an exciting amount of energy that makes it infectious to watch and impossible to skip. While it adheres to a specific episodic formula (as most reality television does) every episode is imbued with its own personality, often based on the subject the Fab 5 are tasked with assisting.

Most importantly, what helps set Queer Eye apart from other reality shows, and other television currently airing, is its genuine heart and the five affable men who star in the show. Whether they’re helping an older guy who likes making redneck margaritas and going to car shows, or helping a trans man become more confident after his top surgery, they approach each person with honest endearment and affable joy, so much so that it is compelling and heartwarming.

That’s a core part of what helps make Queer Eye a great show for all kinds of people, no matter where on the sexuality spectrum you find yourself. Every member of the Fab 5 brings a unique perspective to each episode and to each person, elevating the show above the typical “reality show” feel and injecting heart and engaging humor in a genre that is often lacking both of those qualities. More importantly, each member of the Fab 5 is drastically different and unique — and did I mention they are all genuinely friendly and loving? I’m actually speaking from personal experience here: I had the opportunity to meet and chat with Antoni Porowski before an event at a local college, and he is one of the nicest, most down-to-earth people I have ever met.

Queer Eye.jpg

I think if I was going to come to a general thesis of this blog post, it would be simple: Queer Eye and its team uses the reality television formula and aesthetic to communicate the love, joy, and happiness they want to spread into the world. That’s part of what helps separate it from other shows in its genre; it’s not trying to use misleading editing to create drama, nor is it listless and devoid of meaning — far from it. Rather, Queer Eye (which only releases 8 episodes a season) approaches every person without judgment and with the sincere desire to help. In a time where cynicism seems to be around every corner, that kind of optimism is desperately needed.

In an early interview, after the first season dropped on Netflix, the Fab 5 did an interview (which I will link below) where they discussed both the show and their approach to it. Tan, the fashion perspective on the show, brought up an interesting point that gets at the heart of what I’m trying to say (it starts at 0:53 for those who are interested in watching).

The original show was fighting for tolerance, and it was different to our show because of this: the original show, it was at a time when the audience wasn’t ready to hear about the intimate lives. They wanted the glossy version of what gays are, and that’s all that America was ready for. That’s all the world was ready for. Times have changed. We don’t want you to just think that we’re a bunch of gay guys who can make something pretty - that’s not the case anymore...We want you to accept us as your kin. We want you to accept us as the people we are. We are just men who are out to help, and do the best we can to help everybody that we meet.
— Tan, FOX 5 DC Interview

No matter what your sexual identity or orientation is, I can confidently say you should give Queer Eye a shot.

More important than that, though, I can promise you that you will not find a more enjoyable, uplifting, wholesome, or optimistic show on television right now. The lengths that this team goes to to make both the heroes (as they affectionately dub the folks they help) and the fans they meet happy and feel loved is unlike anything I have seen on television before. It’s something everyone can connect to, whether you are straight, gay, bi, trans, asexual, or anywhere in-between on the sexuality spectrum.

Give it a shot. Watch an episode or two. I have a sneaking suspicion that you won’t be able to stop, just like I wasn’t able to.