It’s becoming increasingly difficult to watch the news lately. Don’t get me wrong, it’s more important than ever to stay informed, but so much of the real-life media that we consume is either unsettling or upsetting. The plethora of problems facing the world, playing on loop on countless news channels, makes things start to feel a little hopeless sometimes. Where are the forces of good and positivity in the world? Why don’t we see those represented on TV anymore?
Sure, one could lose themselves in trashy or thoughtless TV as an escape from the stresses of reality. Love Island anyone? But instead, my reminder of the pockets of good in the world came in the form of Netflix’s Queer Eye. This summer, Queer Eye released their fourth season, and the show skyrocketed from mildly known to wildly popular. I’m not surprised one bit by its success. Queer Eye a reality show that’s more than just an escape — it’s touchingly genuine, emotional, and raw.
The Netflix version of Queer Eye (which is actually a reboot of a 2003 Bravo show) is comprised of a cast of five gay men, referred to as the “Fab Five,” each specializing in one specific area (food/wine, grooming, fashion, home decor, and culture). The purpose of the show, simply put, is to make people feel more comfortable in their own skin.
Each episode is centered around an individual receiving advice for the week, whom the show lovingly refers to as the episode’s ‘hero.’ These heroes are on a wide spectrum of sexualities, gender identities, races, and abilities, from single straight white men to queer people of color. This show is truly representative of individuals from all walks of life. The heroes have their own varying degrees of need, and the men of Queer Eye cater to each individual’s lifestyles, finding ways to improve their life that works for them.
In one notable episode released this summer, the Fab Five helped a man named Wesley Hamilton, who was paralyzed from the waist down after a shooting incident seven years prior. He is wheelchair-bound, but reveals that becoming paralyzed changed his life for the better, and that he is now a better father and man. When Bobby, the home design expert, renovates Wesley’s house to make it more wheelchair-accessible, it’s a pure and emotional moment for Wesley. Through simple changes like the lowering of mirrors, closets, and the stovetop, Wesley’s life is made infinitely more normalized and simple.
It sounds cliche to assert that people with disabilities are ‘just like us’ and should not be treated any differently, but this episode circumvents the triteness of making the argument and instead shows us. Representation of all kinds of people in the media is direly necessary. Queer Eye avoids a whitewashed, heteronormative narrative of America in a refreshing effort towards honesty and real connection.
The show’s representation is only one of the reasons why it’s particularly timely and necessary. Queer Eye appeals to audiences for the same reason that Humans of New York became such a success. Though each subject is an ‘ordinary person’ — their stories are unique, complex, and often emotionally powerful. It doesn’t need any fancy scripts or frills — the show effortlessly connects with audiences around the world. So next time the news cycle sends you into a spiral of frustration, consider switching on an episode of Queer Eye to warm your heart and lift your spirits.
Cover Photo: CNN