A detailed investigation into whether Netflix’s new Queer Eye stacks up

Words by Bianca O'Neill

Image Via Netflix

‘To Gay or Not Too Gay’

I’m a freelancer who works from home most days, so daytime reality TV reruns are my jam – and none more so than old episodes of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy. There was something so innocent and optimistic about Carson and co. helping hapless straight men on the road to style recovery.

Even before gay marriage was legalised, or discussions about the Safe Schools program materialised, a major commercial station got behind five gay men as protagonists of a fairly straight narrative – mostly because everyone knows that gay men are better than straight men at divining what women want. Even better than 2000s Mel Gibson.

So when I heard that Netflix was rebooting the show with a new Fab Five, I was worried that they would be unable to capture the magic of the original – that is, until I saw the episode titles. ‘You Can’t Fix Ugly’ and ‘To Gay or Not Too Gay’ the screen shouted at me, and I was no longer hesitant that this would be a most excellent remake.

The new series opens with a poignant tribute to the old guard and acknowledges the importance of such a show on mainstream TV back then. We may not have realised it at the time, but five gay men bonding with a straight man in such a heartfelt way, breaking down stereotypes and misinformation while they were at it, was pretty revolutionary.

Ok great. Now onto the real shit… Let’s dive headfirst into the inaugural episode. First thoughts on the new cast:

  • Tan ain’t no Carson.
  • Jonathan is already my favourite, and also, I want to know what shampoo he uses on his silky locks.
  • Karamo is an absolute sweetheart and I want to marry him.
  • Bobby should have been in a ’90s boy band.
  • I don’t know what the other guy’s name is, because I don’t really care?

Our first victim is an older man, who drinks ‘redneck margaritas’, which appear to just be tequila shots in Mountain Dew. Anyway, his daughter seems to think his main issue is his jorts, but she’s just being really nice/deluded.

As the Fab Five jump in the car, they peruse their unlucky-in-love first victim. Jonathan’s first line is “no relationship break up has ever been my fault, it’s always been the other person’s fault 100%”. I knew he was going to be my favourite.

They arrive at Tom’s house with the usual Fab Five whirlwind of craziness, and begin to unpack his life. Tom tells them they ‘can’t fix ugly’, and the gang are so, so sweet – telling him that he’s beautiful inside and out. NO THAT’S NOT A TEAR, YOU ARE.

They find out Tom has separated from his wife, but they still love each other. Naturally, the Fab Five decide their mission is to reunite the ex-lovers with a prime time makeover.

First, the house. They dump his grotty recliner and take Tom to find a solid mattress. Cue mattress store shenanigans and rolling around on beds with a lot of (metaphorical) winking. Ah, this is the Fab Five I know and love.

Next, my fave Jonathan grooms Tom’s ZZ Top beard and cuts his hair, while doing a lot of hair whipping a-la Willow Smith. It is excellent and I no longer care about Tom’s makeover journey, also I would like to see Jonathan in a music video.

Karamo makes me weep with a pep talk that would drive the cute little league team to victory in a quirky rom-com. Tan is boring while he flicks through boring clothes and says boring things. The other one I don’t care about makes guacamole. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The episode wraps up with Tom reunited with his former love, a house worthy of Homes and Gardens, and a reinvigorated zest for life that culminates in another teary moment. UGH, YOU GUYS.

All in all, the new Queer Eye delivers all the best heart-warming moments from the original, paired with trademark fun and a lot of winking at the fourth wall. It is truly excellent and I have to go now, there are seven more episodes of Jonathan’s hair flicking to watch.

Follow Bianca at @_thesecondrow or listen to her podcast at @thefashionpodcast.

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