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When Queer Eye for the Straight Guy first debuted in July 2003, I was just 30-years-old and was not honestly a huge fan of the reality show experience in general. To be honest, I did not think reality TV as a whole genre had any sort of survivability, and while I thought the original grouping of Carson Kressley, Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, and Jai Rodriguez had their charms, I really wasn't into watching makeover shows in general. I just didn't get it.
15 years can change a lot of things. I'm no longer 30 and I have two kids, for starters. There's also a new iteration of Queer Eye on Netflix, which I had known about but had zero time to watch between parenting, a career, and trying to carve out time to exercise. That changed as of last night when my 13-year-old daughter put on Queer Eye.
It was a move that sort of surprised me. Her tastes generally run more to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or crime drama rather than a show about makeovers, but I thought since she'd put it on, I'd give it a shot. Her 9-year-old sister, who is very much into makeovers, was captivated by the idea of checking out the show.
This is not just about makeovers, folks, and I now suspect that the original version of the show from a decade and a half ago was not about makeovers either.
See what narrow-minded thinking about a television show—or anything, for that matter—can do?
Anyhow, I watched two episodes with my girls and have to admit that I am well and truly hooked. This current crew on Queer Eye—Karamo Brown (culture), Tan France (fashion), Antoni Porowski (food and wine), Jonathan Van Ness (grooming) and Bobby Berk (design)—are charming, warm, and funny. I was unprepared for the moments where the makeover subjects would talk with either individual members of the Fab Five or with the group as a whole and just be so touched by the experience.
I expected hair and wardrobe makeovers. I perhaps even expected a makeover of the subject's living space. I did not expect the intimate revelations about wanting to honor fathers that have since passed on, and I did not expect the discussions about each one of the current Fab 5's coming out journeys. I'm only two episodes in on Season 1, and I know I am incredibly late to the Queer Eye experience, but holy hell, this is good stuff.
This incredibly diverse group of guys are incredibly comfortable in their own skin and it was hugely enlightening hearing them discuss their own experiences—albeit briefly—with their individual coming out stories. I loved that Karamo was open about the experience he had when a cop pulled the vehicle he was driving over; according to Bustle, it was purely a set-up to introduce the guys, who were all in the vehicle at the time, to the man who nominated their subject, Cory Waldrop. However, the guys were completely unaware that it was a set-up and Karamo and Tan, the only people of color on the cast, were livid. It introduced, however, a needed conversation about what people of color feel and go through every time they might get pulled over by law enforcement. By the episode's end, Karamo realized that his attitude towards Cory, their subject and a cop himself, had shifted to something quite positive. Cory apparently felt the same way, and according to Buzzfeed, the two are actually close friends now.
"Because of [Cory], I’m a little more open and a little less jaded when I see police officers," Karamo said of "Dega Don't," the episode featuring Cory. "It doesn’t mean I think all police officers are going to be good, but that doesn’t mean that all people are good. We still have some political differences, but as a whole, I see him as a human being and he sees me as a human being. I see him as a father, he sees me as a father. That’s why we’re texting each other at eight o’clock in the morning."
In short, even though I'm only two episodes in, and Queer Eye just started filming Season 3, I'm intrigued. I'm hooked. I want more.
It's just a piece of positivity in what seems to have become an increasingly wild world. Couldn't we use more of that positive energy?