So, here’s the thing: I cry a lot. If you know me, you know that about me. If you know anything at all, you know that. Birds fly, fish swim, and Rae cries. I cry when I’m happy, I cry when I’m angry, I cry when I’m scared, and I cry when I just feel like I need to cry. I’m a pisces, okay? It’s kind of our whole thing. Don’t take away my thing. Crying is a human right.
Being an easy crier, when a friend of mine recommended the reboot of Queer Eye to me promising me it would make me cry, I didn’t really understand the scale of that promise. Sure, it would make me cry. A particularly moving commercial about horses could make me cry. A sad sounding song playing in another room made me cry this weekend. I didn’t doubt a makeover show with gay people would be able to make me cry.
I just didn’t get it yet.
I watched the original run of Queer Eye for The Straight Guy with my mom when I was in elementary school, but I don’t think I took much of it in. There were five guys who dressed silly, and talked silly, and my mom thought they were funny, and that was enough for me. When I was told about the reboot, I didn’t have any warm nostalgic feelings, or high standards for the new Fab 5 to live up to – I was expecting a kinda hokey, kinda funny, standard makeover romp with a gay twist. Something to pass the time in my Netflix queue. What I got, what we all got, was something else entirely. Something else we really desperately needed.
The world sucks lately. I know that’s kind of a brand new hot political take that none of you have ever heard before, but I’m here to bring you the harsh truths: the world sucks lately. People are hurtful, and hateful. The government all around kind of sucks, no matter which government you’re talking about. Everyone’s fighting with each other and nobody gets much good news. Our social media feeds fill up every day with complaints (justified and not), fear, anger, and snide remarks. We’re kind of miserable, and our friends are kind of miserable, and the world is kind of miserable.
Except maybe it isn’t. Can you believe?
The thing about Queer Eye is that it’s got this slow but unrelenting warmth about it. The Fab 5 all love each other. The Fab 5 all love their make-overees. The make-overees love the Fab 5. The makeoverees love their partners, ex-partners, children, communities, parents, religion, friends, and in turn, the Fab 5 love all those things too. People are spoken to gently, but honestly. People are given space to come to their own conclusions. Suggestions are not enforced. Criticism is listened to. Opinions count. Nobody is ever referred to as ugly, or boring, or slovenly – gentle words, kind tones, and overarching love makes every makeover feel more like a natural growth than an artificial change. It’s a gentle moment where people love each other. It’s a gentle moment where people love themselves.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s still a silly reality tv show about makeovers. They crack jokes, they poke fun, there’s dramatic plot reveals and a results section to ooh and aah appropriately. But Queer Eye has managed to hit a special note in tone and feeling – it’s a show that manages to feel friendly and safe without sacrificing humour, energy, and personality. Each Fab 5 member has their own quirks and flaws – some struggle with religion, some embrace an extreme flamboyancy, some are loud, some are reserved. They each feel like a real person, not a character from a TV show, and these real people seem to understand the type of friend the world needed in them.
I was watching one of the newest episodes recently, and my best friend said to me about the straight guy in question & his girlfriend that she “didn’t know love like this existed,” and in the moment, it didn’t feel cheesy or sarcastic or over the top – it was a genuine expression of hope, of appreciation, of awe. During another one, we both discussed our relationship as lesbians with our parents, and with our parents’ religions, as someone else’s experience was played out gently onscreen. In another, I cried so hard during a proposal that I could barely see the screen. Another, I laughed so hard at Antoni discovering a bag of teeth that I spat out my Coke. Queer Eye covers a range of emotions and topics, from homophobia to police brutality to self expression to the best way to wear crop tops, and handles all with deft and class and a light hearted tone that doesn’t scare away anyone unfamiliar with these topics without feeling patronizing to anyone who is. When it was recommended to me, and I was told I was going to cry, that was what they meant.
The world can be dark. The world can be heavy too. A makeover show with some gay guys won’t solve those problems. But Queer Eye, despite it’s appearance, isn’t about solving anyone’s problems – Tan can buy you a new shirt but he can’t make you confident about wearing it. Bobby can redesign your living room but he can’t make it feel like home. Ultimately, Queer Eye isn’t about solving problems – it’s about hope. Hope that problems are solvable, and feelings are manageable, and human connection is not only possible, but inevitable. We can all get to where we’re going the same way the people getting made over get to the end of their episodes – by listening, and loving, and with gentle support.
So I guess what I’m saying is you should watch Queer Eye.
It might make you cry.