Mar 5, 2018

[TV] Queer Eye: Season 1 Review


The first Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a strange creation of its time. The decision to explore the reality television potential of a make-over show by gay men for straight men is an odd one, but one that reflects the efforts of the Bravo network to set itself apart from its competitors at the time. The show was a surprise success and managed to run for 5 seasons across 100 episodes.

Come 2018 and Netflix decides to revive the franchise with a new Queer Eye Fab Five going around America to help anyone who needs them. And like the latter part of the original show, they've gone past the straight guy focus and will now help out anyone in need regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about this show since it's not like I was a huge fan of the original series and the initial trailers and promotional material felt a little heavy-handed in how it was trying to present itself. But once we actually dove into the show one it hit Netflix, we were pleasantly surprised by the direction they've taken things.

Synopsis: Queer Eye is a Netflix original reality television series created by David Collins. The show is a revival of the original Queer Eye for the Straigt Guy.

The new Fab Five driving the show consist of (followin the poster above) Bobby Berk for design, Karamo Brown for culture, Jonathan Van Ness for grooming, Antoni Porowski for food and Tan France for fashion. The core format remains the same - the five barge into a person's life, give them a personal makeover and re-do their space for them and then they leave to watch the results of their efforts from afar.

But beyond just helping out anyone who writes into the show, it's clear that they decided to curate their list of persons of interest to some degree to tell a particular story as they went around Atlanta. Thus we have a line-up that includes a gay man who is preparing to come out to his mother and we have a reverend who didn't get any photos from his wedding. And to cap things off with a fire station including helping the firemen stage a fund-raising event. That's a lot of diversity.

What I Liked: It takes you a while to get to appreciate this new group, which is to be expected from any show. But the boys do grow on you - and this goes well beyond Jonathan's geeky fame from Gay of Thrones recaps or how cute Antoni seems to be for many. They're a pretty well chosen group that work well enough together and the results of their work can be pretty impressive indeed.

And while there's some about of cheese to how things are edited (which is to be expected), on the whole the show feels fairly authentic and well-meaning. Sure they organized things to create certain situations like getting Karamo to take a ride in a police car despite the usual racial tensions between African-Americans and America's often white police force but what happened in the car was pretty original on its own.

What Could Have Been Better: Initially you can feel everyone over-eager to make themselves stand out or at least be somehow memorable in the eyes of viwers. Some reactions or interactions initially felt like "a bit much" if you get my drift. But over time I think they find their groove and it generally balances out - but there are still those quirky moments.

I think the "weaker" members of the team tend to be Antoni and Karamo. Antoni's job every episode is to pretty much teach the person how to cook (or even just prepare) one dish and then that's it. Obviously design has the biggest impact and grooming always make sure to provide product and regimen recommendations while fashion upgrades the wardrobe and provides tips on how to pick clothes. Then a lot of times culture feels like he's just being more of a general life coach and so you et weird moments like taking the person on the sort of daring activities we see in team-buildin workshops and then that's it. As cute as Karamo can be, he needs a better defined role.

TL;DR: Queer Eye's return to television is still a welcome one and it's a nice step up from what had been started before in an effort to update the show for more modern audiences. In a Trump-influenced America with the rights of the LGBT community under assault, maybe this is the prefect time for ths show and the conversation they're trying to have with its viewers. Thus the first season still gets a great 5 crazy useful tips Jonathan offers people out of a possible 5.


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