Remember when the word “queer” was an insult hurled by homophobes against gay people? Remember a time before the words “metrosexual” and “zhuzh” has entered the lexicon? If not, good for you. But either way, we have a TV show to thank for it. Queer Eye for the Straight Guy was a cultural phenomenon from 2002–06, making household names out of Carson Kressley and Ted Allen and doing extreme makeovers before that term existed, either. It ran its course, but all things just keep getting better… especially given a lapse in time. (Will & Grace, X Files, Roseanne…. We’re looking at you.)
The new incarnation of the show, called simply Queer Eye, has returned via Netflix for an eight-episode tryout, and what a welcome return it is. The set-up is essentially the same, with five out gay men descending on schlubby, mostly middle-aged straight men from Greater Atlanta, to teach them how to live better lives with style. I say mostly, because one notable episode involves AJ, a ripped, shy but secretly freaky gay man who hasn’t come out yet. If you’re not sobbing openly by the end, you might wanna seek counseling. And that happens over and over.
Forget the tongue-clucking about how the show promotes stereotypes, and just enjoy what it has to offer: Feelings of pride, hope and joy. Hey, we’re called “gay” for a reason.
— Arnold Wayne Jones