BY AMY YOELIN ’18
Carson, Kyan, Ted, Thom, and Jai: the original Fab Five. These names may mean nothing to you, but to me these men have been my unofficial gay fathers since “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” premiered in the early 2000s. The Fab Five, each specializing in a category (Food, Culture, Fashion, Design and Grooming), are assigned with the task of taking a straight man and glamming him up for a date or big event. The man is usually nominated by a family member or friend. Sadly, this show came to an end in 2007. Of course, in the age of reboots and renewals, Netflix picked it up, now titled “Queer Eye,” which follows the same premise of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” except with a new Fab Five.
To me, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” is such a classic show that I wondered how it could be done with a new cast. While I do — dare I say — enjoy the bodacious personalities of the new Fab Five (Antoni, Jonathan, Bobby, Karamo and Tan), it seems as though the show’s main goal is to change perceptions of gay people and break stereotypes. For example, in one episode, Bobby shares his personal struggles with religion and his sexuality, describing his experience of growing up in an Assembly of God Church. “Christianity was my life,” Bobby said, while listing the numerous ways he was involved with the church. “I heard the word ‘gay’ in church, but I heard it in a very negative way.” Bobby discussed sexuality and religion with conservative Christian contestant, Bobby Camp. The two were planting a home garden when Bobby asked Camp for his views on homosexuality.
“Maybe you think we’re judgemental, maybe you think we hate gays,” Camp said. “That’s not us. God told me to love my neighbor.”
Sexuality isn’t the only issue confronted in “Queer Eye.” Another episode addresses racial tensions and police violence. The episode begins as the Fab Five, driven by Karamo, an African American, are pulled over by a white police officer. The officer turns out to be friend and nominator of fellow officer and contestant, Cory Waldrop. Its a tense moment that Karamo later addresses in his discussion of police violence with Waldrop.
“When [the officer] pulled us over, I immediately started freaking out,” Karamo said. “I really thought that this was going to be that incident where I was gonna get dragged out of the car.”
“Queer Eye” is also noticeably less crass than its predecessor. The original Fab Five didn’t shy away from crude language, often using insensitive terms, such as “retarded” and referring to themselves as the “Faggoty Fab Five.”
No longer simply a relic from the past, “Queer Eye” is fresh, fabulous and breaking down perceptions of race and sexuality.