Was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Good for the Gays?

Expanding the LGBTQ Conversation
Oct. 18 2013 12:27 PM

Was Queer Eye for the Straight Guy Good for the Gays?

Kyan Douglas, Tom Filicia, Andy Cohen, Carson Kressley, Ted Allen, and Jai Rodriguez
The Fab Five on Andy Cohen's couch

Photo by: Giovanni Rufino/Bravo

If you’re one of those people for whom the Fab Five means Carson, Jai, Kyan, Ted, and Thom rather than Chris, Jalen, Jimmy, Juwan, and Ray, you might want to tune to Bravo and uncork something alcoholic this Sunday night at 9 p.m. In Queer Eye Reunion: 10 Years Later, the guys who taught America’s straight men the wonders of depilation sit down with Andy Cohen to banter lightly between clips from some of the grossest, hairiest, tear-jerkingest moments from the five seasons of Queer Eye.

The show’s theme song insisted that “All Things (Just Keep Getting Better),” and that sure seems to be true for this bunch. A decade after the show’s premiere, all of them seem more handsome, better coiffed, and generally more relaxed than they did during its run. (I imagine the generous pours of Bravo’s house mixologist deserve some of the credit for that.)

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Between montages, the Fab Five reflect on questions like whether the show perpetuated gay stereotypes or was good for the gays (“both” is the consensus answer), whether they gave heterosexual men permission to care about the way they looked (yes), and whether anyone should wear pleated khakis (NO!). As hokey as the original series now seems, that confrontational title got the Q word in TV Guide, and this reunion leaves no doubt that the show’s brashness helped to establish that Middle America was ready to watch gay people prance around on television.

Sunday’s show also makes another point: Ten years ago, reality TV required people to go out into the world and do something. These days, it involves communing with Andy Cohen on an overstuffed couch.

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

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