Entertainment » Television

For Season 2, 'Queer Eye' & Netflix Toss Out the Rulebook

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Tuesday Jun 19, 2018

When its first season bowed earlier this year, the "Queer Eye" Netflix reboot, which debuts its second season on the streaming service Friday, became a bigger sensation than anyone could have imagined. The show - featuring a new Fab Five - was not simply a retread of the makeover series that first aired on Bravo in 2003. The new crew (Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van) not only brought heart but also social awareness to "Queer Eye," discussing everything from Black Lives Matter and making over a fellow gay man, encouraging him to come out to his stepmother. That particular moment signaled a major shift in the show, which was once called "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy." For queer people, it showed something rarely seen on TV (and in real life) - gay men supporting other gay men.

For its second season, "Queer Eye" pushes itself beyond its boundaries yet again, totally tossing out the series' (ridiculous) guidelines of only making over straight men. Like in Season 1, the second season finds the men still down south (more on that later). In the first episode of Season 2, the Fab Five travel to Gay, Georgia (yes, you read that right!), which has a population of fewer than 100 residents. This is where they make over Tammye Hicks, a pastor who is heavily involved in her local church and who recently lost her mother of cancer. She's also the first woman to star on an episode of "Queer Eye." Unsurprisingly, its one of the best episodes of the series as Tammye opens her home and spirit to the crew. It's an emotional journey where the Fab Five learn about Tammy's son Myles, who is gay and recently came out to her. The Fab Five listen to the mother and son as they address their relationship and the small community around them and what it's like to be black and gay in a tiny Southern town. It's a hallmark episode of the series, which is heightened as the crew also encourages Myles, gives him advice, and style help as well.

From left to right: Myles Hicks, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Tammye Hicks in "Queer Eye." Photo credit: Courtesy of Netfilx

Another notable and deeply moving episode features Skyler, a trans man, who is also the show's first trans star. The episode opens with the Fab Five watching a video of Skyler recovering from top surgery, leaving the crew completely emotional, allowing their tears to flow. It is especially fascinating for France, who admits he's never known a trans person before meeting Skyler. France and Skyler have a beautiful and an open heart-to-heart conversation where France reveals his past perceptions of the trans community. Topping off the moment is France's decision to work with a clothing company that creates garments specifically for trans people, making sure Skyler gets a number of perfect looks that fit his body. Like the Season 1 episode when the Fab Five helped AJ Brown come out as gay to his family, the new episode with Skyler is a heartfelt and breathtaking celebration of queer love and solidarity. These diverse episodes are so good and interesting that it makes episodes featuring cis men a bit less exciting.

"Queer Eye" Season 2 signals a stunning shift for the show. The newest batch of episodes was reportedly filmed during the same time as Season 1 while in Georgia. (Reports recently surfaced that the crew is currently filming in Australia, specifically a town called Yass so it appears that a Season 3 renewal will happen.) It's hopeful that the show and its crew will listen to fans and viewers by incorporating and featuring more queer and diverse voices into "Queer Eye," allowing the Fab Five to help out others in their community as it definitely yields the best results and most authentic moments.

Skyler appears on an episode of "Queer Eye." Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix

"Queer Eye" Season 2 also signals a shift for Netflix, showing the company may be starting to rewrite its own rules. Of course, the streaming service is known for dumping full seasons of its TV shows in one sitting, allowing subscribers to binge-watch hours upon hours of content. This method has changed and revolutionized the TV industry and the way in which we watch things. But releasing everything at once also has its downfalls. A big show like "Stranger Things" dominates the conversation and headlines for a week - maybe a bit longer. Everyone plugged into the zeitgeist quickly consumes the show and then discusses it online over a short period of time. Netflix loses that momentum rather quickly - a show like HBO's "Game of Thrones" or "Westworld," which are doled every Sunday over an eight to 10 week period, is able to build and stretch the conversation and the buzz around those programs for much longer. What Netflix has done with "Queer Eye" is quite interesting and shouldn't go unnoticed. The streaming service basically split one season of the show into two eight-episode seasons, releasing it twice in a year. This allows Netflix to capitalize on momentum without breaking its tried-and-true everything-at-once rule. "Queer Eye" seems like the perfect show to test this since the Fab Five are authentic and real people who live off-screen and are active on social media, meaning the show's stars are always in their fans' consciousness.

In its second season, the rebooted "Queer Eye" is enjoyable as it is refreshing. For all of its improvements, it can still do better - and it likely will. As the Fab Five have proven through 16 episodes, they are here to listen and here share and reward new perspectives. There's no doubt "Queer Eye" Season 3 will be even more magnificent than ever before.


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