Last week Netflix dropped the third season of its original total-makeover show “Queer Eye”, and I binge-watched the whole thing as fast as I could. As you might know, the show’s premise is that five smart, fabulous gay guys descend upon a hapless person who desperately needs to get their sh*t together, and together the titular Fab Five make over all aspects of their life – personal grooming (Jonathan Van Ness), home design and decor (Bobby Berk), fashion and style (Tan France), cooking (Antoni Porowski), and culture (Karamo Brown), which is really what you might call building self-awareness and confidence.
Its first incarnation was as a Bravo show called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” that ran from 2003-2007, and focused entirely on the original cast helping straight men impress their wives or girlfriends. This new iteration is more diverse; while the vast majority of those being helped are still straight dudes, season one of Queer Eye featured an emotionally wrenching episode in which the Fab Five helped a closeted gay man come out to his stepmother, and season two featured an episode in which a transgender man was assisted in choosing a new wardrobe and taking on a more confident attitude following his top surgery.
Obviously there’s representation of the G in LGBTQ in this series — I mean, the title says it all, really. But I’m happy to see the Fab Five branching out a little bit to bestow their stylish talents upon members of their own LGBTQ community. The episode with the transgender man, Skylar, had a lovely moment in which fashion expert and personal stylist Tan admitted to being ignorant of the trans experience, and he and Skylar subsequently had a conversation that I’m sure was enlightening not just for Tan, but for many of the show’s viewers. (Skylar expands more on that here.)
I’m pleased to report that season three happily continues this trend by visiting their talents upon a young black lesbian woman with a tragic backstory in episode 5, helping her to realize and express her true identity through personal style, and making her feel at home in the loving embrace of her found family. They’ve also started to shake up their roster a bit; while each fella still sticks mainly to his assigned arena, in this case Bobby shared his own sad but hopeful coming-out story and helped the young woman to accept her past.
“Queer Eye” always done a great job at fulfilling its mission, which is to familiarize “middle America” with gay people through the medium of a makeover show as a method of promoting not just tolerance but acceptance. But it’s also got a great platform for representing other experiences on the LGBTQ spectrum, and introducing more of these lives to cisgender hetero vanilla viewers under the cover of an innocently fun makeover show could do a lot to dispel ignorance and hate at a time when more tolerance is sorely needed in popular culture and society.
If you or your family love watching makeover shows, and you’re hungry for some LGBTQ representation, you could do worse than binge “Queer Eye” on Netflix. It’s fairly family-friendly, the guys are charming as hell, and you get to see homes, hairstyles, and fashion made over all in one in a 60-minute package with wit, humour, and heart thrown in for good measure.
I’m hoping that the next season will expand Queer Eye’s repertoire even more. And I can’t wait!