Why Queer Eye is One of the Greatest Shows Ever
I love Queer Eye. I love it so much that I’ve honestly considered letting my life go to crap so that they can come in and save me. I’m not joking. (The only reason I didn’t is because there’s no guarantee they’ll do an Australian special again.)
My gay friend, Nat, however is highly critical of the show and doesn’t think it’s worth her valuable time. She recently suggested it was vain and about getting a new wardrobe, or something like that. (There was steam coming out of my ears so I couldn’t hear her properly.)
So, to prove how utterly wrong she is, I’m writing this blog post. (Yes, I am a Type A personality.)
1. It’s About Self Worth And Self Love
In one episode Tan says, “I didn’t change anything. I just highlighted the best bits.”
The Fab 5 don’t come in and tell people to be something they’re not – they show (or remind) the person how to accentuate the best bits; how to remove the negative thoughts, attitudes and behaviours; how to connect with the parts of themselves that they love; how to go after what they want.
The only behaviour they try to change is the behaviour that’s hurting the “hero” of the episode – that includes not looking after themselves or the space they live in, not eating right, not dressing to suit their body type and empower themselves. Because whether we like it or not, we wear clothes every day, and if we’re putting on clothes that make us feel like we’re garbage or the wrong shape or size, we’re literally wearing that attitude.
I turn to the wise Tan again: "Style is not fashion. Fashion is not trendy after a season. I couldn't give a sh*t about fashion. Style is dressing the way that you feel confident and what is appropriate for you, your age, body type."
Through everything we do, we should show that we value and love ourselves – and that’s what the Fab 5 help people do.
2. They Throw Stereotypes Out The Window
Antoni is a Polish-Canadian with cheese-grater abs (which works out well considering his specialty is food and wine).
Bobby is a white man from middle America, who experienced homelessness as a teenager because his family threw him out for being gay.
Jonathan looks killer in heels.
Karamo is a gay man with two teenage sons, one of which is biological – he also has the most spectacular collection of sequin jackets.
Tan is a gay, Muslim man.
There is no “one type” of gay man – thank goodness for that! What a boring show it would be! And while they themselves challenge stereotypes, so do their “heroes” – not all Christians are homophobic A-holes; not all straight men are scared of a good, old-fashioned, male group hug; and it turns out a lot of red-faced straight men love a green concealer.
The show challenges straight, gay, trans, male, female and racial stereotypes. In the latest season, they even challenge the ‘disabled person’ stereotype. Queer Eye takes ‘em all on – and comes out on top.
3. They Break Down Toxic Masculinity
Which brings me to how they’re breaking down toxic masculinity. From the hugs, to the concealer to straight men holding hands.
Just to be clear about what toxic masculinity is (as sometimes I feel this is used out of context): Toxic masculinity refers to the unspoken and harmful ‘cultural norms’ that are inadvertently placed on men. Such as men needing to repress their emotions, be self reliant and socially dominant, violent and aggressive, having to be the breadwinner and provide for a family, being good at sports, etc.
I don’t think I need to explain why repressing your emotions isn’t healthy behaviour – the fact that deaths by suicide in Australia occur among males at a rate three times greater than that for females speaks for itself. But all of those pressures put on men are unnecessary and harmful to men’s health, and society.
Queer Eye breaks down toxic masculinity is the most authentic and natural way – men talking about depression and how they struggle with insecurities, straight men hugging gay men, men crying. Those might seem like trivial things but they’re not at all. They’re powerful images and they’re showing a different way for men to be.
4. They Hug A Lot
Just to reinforce the earlier point: Straight men can hug gay men. Straight men can hug straight men. Antoni can hug me anytime.
The Fab 5 themselves hold hands and hug all the time. They also get snuggly and affectionate with their guests. They’re normalising affection. It’s cute, and it’s what the world needs.
5. They Don’t Shy Away From Hard Or Awky Questions
In the very first episode, “hero” Tom asks Bobby: “So who’s the wife?” when he finds out Bobby is married.
Bobby kindly and patiently explains how that’s a common misconception about same-sex marriages. There is no “husband” or “wife” in their relationship, they’re both “husbands” because relationships are partnerships and each person can be the type of partner they want. They don’t have to conform to predetermined “marriage” stereotypes.
The patient and kind way in which Bobby talks to Tom is powerful, as are the subsequent conversations. Rather than getting angry and upset, he’s calm and starts a dialogue. Yes, it’s unfair that as a minority group you often have to “take the high road” but Bobby realised Tom meant no harm. Tom, in fact, loves the Fab 5. But society’s taught him the wrong thing, and someone had to correct him in a kind, patient way that he could understand. (By the way, Tom is the first ever episode and he is absolute sweetest. I can’t even.)
I could go on with other scenes (I originally did but then realised I was rambling and did a quick edit). But the point is: sometimes we have to unlearn things, and it starts with creating safe spaces to ask hard questions. Queer Eye creates those spaces, and starts those conversations.
6. They Preach Acceptance
The whole show is about acceptance – people accepting themselves, the Fab 5 being accepted, the Fab 5 accepting others.
An episode where they make-over a transperson is an eye-opener, as Tan himself acknowledges he’s never known any transpeople closely and has never understood the need for surgery. We watch as Tan himself learns about a different life experience.
In another, a dedicated Christian mother shares her struggle with her own son’s coming out, and we watch as she starts to take pride – loudly and proudly – in her son.
Acceptance is why Queer Eye and the Fab 5 are willing to have the hard conversations – they know it leads to understanding, and ultimately, unity.
7. “Try Not To Cry, Try Not To Lose It”
Too late, JVN. Too late.
Queer Eye is the cry you need in your life. Sweet, happy tears with a side of snot. I cry A LOT – and that’s OK. Actually it’s more than OK. I know this because Queer Eye teaches me it’s OK to cry.
Just one final thing: Queer Eye’s all about self love, acceptance and being you, so honestly do what you want. I accept you and your decisions. And by that, I mean watch Queer Eye – WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.