“Queer Eye” redefines what it means to be a man

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Cast of the 2018 "Queer Eye" reboot. (Photo courtesy of IMDB)

Masculinity is being challenged in all of the best ways with the Netflix’s reboot of “Queer Eye,” a reality TV show dedicated to giving men a complete mind, body and spirit makeover over the course of one week.

The show is a revamp of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” but this time the show has expanded to cater to more than just straight, young, single white men. The reboot features men of a variety of races, age groups, religions and sexual orientations.

The show is back with a brand new cast, commonly referred to as the Fab Five. The new bunch come from a diverse set of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, adding an element of inclusivity to the show that wasn’t as important or easy to come by in the original series.

Bobby Berk takes care of home design, Antoni Porowski focuses on health and food, Jonathan Van Ness grooms each of the participants, and Tan France helps revamp each man’s sense of style.

“Queer Eye” 2.0 has done a very good job at showing that the queer male experience is not limited to white, masculine-presenting men.

The first season is filmed in Georgia, a state that viewers might not expect there to be much acceptance of gay men. However, as each episode goes on, the cast makes sure to have honest conversations about their sexuality with participants that might have preconceived ideas about the LGBTQ+ community.

The original “Queer Eye” was much more about exposure, said France in the very first episode of the reboot. Now, the show is very much about the normalization and acceptance of gay men.

As each episode goes on, the men featured are forced to take deep looks into their lives so that they can be the best versions of themselves by the time the Five Fab’s week is over.

Sometimes, the show’s goofy tone is overrun with extremely emotional parts, such as when the participants are talking about their personal journeys with weight loss, divorce and religion.

In episode four, Karamo Brown, the Fab Five’s culture expert helps AJ, the man of the hour, come out to his family. Brown tells AJ about his own coming out experience as a black man and how he has had to balance the expectations that he faces from the world and his family as someone who’s grown up being told that you can’t be black, masculine and gay all at once.

Brown offers advice and support before AJ eventually introduces his stepmother to his partner. The conversation, while painful, is emotional and heartwarming as AJ learns how to be honest about his true identity.

“Queer Eye” teaches that men can be stylish without having to give up the parts of them that make them feel not just masculine, but like themselves.

Perhaps the most important lesson for all men watching and participating: it is totally okay to be emotional and vulnerable. Men, usually forced to fit into very tight boxes while still being seen as strong and independent.