MenagerieQueer Eye: Fulfilling the gay agenda
Queer Eye: Fulfilling the gay agenda
November 24, 2018
November 24, 2018

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was released on American cable television in July 2003. The premise of the show relied on gay men—belonging to fields considered as gay stereotypes—helping straight men get their life together. The show was successful, garnering positive critical reception as one of the most innovative, original, and entertaining reality shows of the early 21st century. After its cancellation, streaming powerhouse Netflix decided to reboot the show last 2017.

The reboot, whose title was shortened to Queer Eye, featured an all new Fab Five. As with the 2003 version, Netflix’s reboot relied on gay stereotypes embodied by each of the Fab Five. There’s Tan France for fashion and style, Bobby Berk for design, Karamo Brown for culture, Antoni Porowski for food and wine, and Jonathan Van Ness for grooming. The five gay men work together to improve and help their Hero (a term they have coined to refer to their episodic clients) make their lives a whole lot gayer—gayer meaning happier.



Same show, different time

An obvious difference that the reboot flaunts is the diversity of the Fab Five. Two out of five are people of color—Karamo is MTV’s first out black gay man and Tan is a gay English Pakistani fashion designer. Many of their clients are people of color or part of the LGBTQ+ community as well, a striking difference from the original whose clientele was mainly straight white men.

Aside from being a makeover show, the Fab Five’s personal experiences factor into the show as well. Bobby’s religious upbringing is highlighted in an episode wherein they had to renovate a church. His feelings about religion and the discrimination it harbors became markers for how hard he had to fight to be successful and happy.

One episode was filmed in the South, where people are prone to racist and homophobic rhetoric. This allowed for a conversation about race and police brutality between Karamo and Cory Waldorp, the episode’s Hero. Karamo, who was driving that episode, was pulled over by a white cop. It was revealed later on to be a prank, but it was an intense experience for Tan and Karamo, the sole people of color riding in the van.  

Season 2 also allowed for a conversation between Skylar Jay and Tan France about the transgender community. Tan, who was not very active in the gay community because of his strict upbringing, opened up about his confusion regarding the transgender community to Skylar. This resulted in a touching moment for both parties as Tan was able to better understand the plight of trans people in the LGBTQ+ community.



The gay agenda

Jai Rodriguez, the culture expert from the original Fab Five, confided that while shooting the original they had no idea that Queer Eye would become a cultural phenomenon. But it has, and it has furthered the gay agenda. 2003’s Queer Eye served as a 101 course for viewers in America about white gay men being at least successful and helpful to straight men everywhere. It was a good show and offered only a tiny sliver of the reality that gay men faced. But the community ate it up because at that time, where else can they get genuine, albeit cleaned up, representations of themselves?

The reboot however, allowed for more sincerity and heart to be shown on-screen. Queer Eye is everything the gay community can ever ask for in representation. It’s educational, entertaining, “meme-able”, and a genuine tear jerker. Most of all, it showed the Fab Five as human. Carson Kressley, the original style expert, noted how their looks and wardrobe in the original was very polished. They wore nothing but professional designer clothes. They were not allowed, whether consciously or unconsciously, to be unkempt. This image of course, was made to appeal to those who were wary of gay men, those who branded them as rebellious and good-for-nothings. On TV, the original Fab Five were nothing but presentable, knowledgeable, refined.

The new Fab Five are less controlled. They wear what they want. They engage in activities like yoga, planting, laser tag, and allow their true selves to shine out. In fact, in helping their Hero, their personal experiences are bared for all to see. The new Fab Five can be more themselves than the original because their audience is no longer toeing the line between accepting them or regarding them as dregs of society.

The gay agenda has always been to further true and sincere acceptance of the members of the LGBTQ+ community. Tan, Antoni, Jonathan, Bobby, and Karamo—by showing that gay people have real emotional struggles all throughout their lives and yet are able to make something successful, content, and happy of themselves—have fulfilled the gay agenda to all those watching, whether gay or straight.

Can you believe?

The Queer Eye reboot was a quiet affair. If you weren’t a fan of the original, you might not have even known that a reboot was happening. It’s not surprising. This day and age are considered a safe place for gay people. They are slowly becoming part of the norm, and so it’s easy to turn a blind eye to their struggles and how far we can still go in truly accepting the community.

Queer Eye took everyone’s heart by a landslide. Every episode was guaranteed to make you cry. Every transformation had you wishing that the Fab Five would show up in your doorstep as well. Every struggle that the Fab Five helped a Hero overcome was a personal achievement to you as well.

Queer Eye succeeds as a TV show because in a way, we all are struggling, we all are lost, and sometimes we need five gay guys to help us through a slump. Each episode is a personal adage to making your life better. The Fab Five serves as a symbol of kindness and perseverance—they have been discriminated against, they have been shut down, they have been invalidated even by their own families, but here they are. Sharing the kindness that they were not given—kindness they have had to learn on their own.

It’s a great show for anyone and everyone. Most of all, it’s a great measure of how far the LGBTQ+ community has come and how far they still have to go.
In a world actively fighting against the validation of being gay, Queer Eye stands as a personal beacon of hope to every viewer—gay or straight—you are you and life will get better once you live out your truth.