It’s been 15 years and, as you’re probably aware, Queer Eye has returned to Netflix for your binge-watching pleasure.
Much like the subjects on Queer Eye, the show itself has undergone a makeover in its move from cable to streaming. Seeing as the show itself has undergone a metamorphosis in order to step onto the 2018 runway, it’s safe to assume that the show is open to a few improvements of its own.
So, here’s a queer eye for Queer Eye, if you will, or five ways the show can take what is already a pretty winning formula and make it better.
1. Show some gender diversity.
One of the glaring problems with the current castthough they’re all (mostly) goodis that the show purports to be queer but pretty much features only cisgender men. When the show comes back on Netflix, perhaps there might be room to either replace or rotate some members of the Fab Five and include trans, nonbinary or agender people in the cast. Given that the show has become about “acceptance” and not “tolerance,” as it said in its first episode, the show could be a platform for some people in America to recognize gender beyond the binary.
2. Makeover more queer people.
Without a doubt, the most emotional episode of the Queer Eye reboot was its fourth episode, in which the Fab Five made over AJ, a black gay man who wanted help coming out to his stepmother. Queer Eye makeovers are by nature part internal and part external, but few of the internal makeovers were as intense as AJs, who gained confidence not only in his appearance, but also confidence as an out queer man. Seeing the Fab Fivean even more gender diverse Fab Five!tackle queer people of all genders would make the show, which has become an emotional experience, even more resonant.
3. Less MAGA.
Yeah, we get it. Because you’re about acceptance, you have to give LGBTQ people a human face to those who live in red state territory. And this is, frankly, something the show does do well. But let’s be realthe Trump administration has not taken a friendly stance on queer people. And by making over someone who proudly supports Trump and has MAGA gear in their home, it feels a little too much like trying to throw glitter at a complex political reality. I’m not saying you have to quit making over conservative people, but perhaps not bringing so much attention to Trump during an hour of TV escapism would be a welcome reprieve.
4. Find out what to do with Karamo.
Like Jai Rodriguez before him, Karamo’s role in the Fab Five as culture guru is less defined than the rest of the cast. However, because he is a black man, that often means that Karamo gets a little too close to the uncomfortable role of “magical negro.” To be clear, this is not at all Karamo’s fault. Karamo, you’re doing amazing, sweetie. But with such a lack of clear definition in his role, it often feels like Karamo’s role is to do emotional labor for the (often) straight, white men the group has decided to zhuzh. One only need to look at the episode in which Karamo is expected to discuss Black Lives Matter with a police officer to see that he is often sacked with the role of changing people’s hearts.
5. Lean away from consumerism.
The Netflix version of Queer Eye does, believe it or not, place a smaller emphasis on consumerism than its Bravo primogenitor. The original invented the idea of the metrosexual, the man who, through buying more and more products, could eventually transform himself from schlub to catch. And while there is no doubt that capitalism is inherent to Queer Eye’s formula, the reboot has also made itself an emotional powerhouse that is just as interested in internal makeovers as external ones. Almost every episode, the subjects become more confident people whose inner light shines a little brighter.
One thing that this installment emphasizes is the power of intimacy and vulnerability among queer people, and it’s often a lesson that they impart to their subjects. Maybe in future seasons, the Fab Five can focus less on products and more things like toxic masculinity and the way men are taught to build emotional walls. The show already has the instinct and should act on it.