Saturday 30/05/2020 - 06:00 pm

Why is Netflix"s Queer Eye connecting so much with viewers?

2018.03.10 01:43

The entertainment landscape is littered with them - from Jumanji and Oceans Eight on the big screen to Will & Grace and Roseanne on the small.

Often, theyre criticised as a lazy way for TV and film companies to cash in on an idea which they know already has an existing audience, regardless of how it might damage the reputation and integrity of the original.

But every so often, theres an exception that proves the rule.

The original Queer Eye For The Straight Guy launched in 2003, and saw five gay men give a straight man a makeover. And not just physically - they would also offer advice about how they might change their attitude or general demeanour.

It was a ratings success, and ran until 2007. But Netflixs new iteration of the show has been going down a storm with critics and on social media - which is unusual for a reboot, and especially for one which has an arguably dated format.

"I think its what people really need right now," Scott Bryan, BuzzFeeds TV editor, tells BBC News.

"Theres not much else on TV thats so positive. You do have Bake Off, in a competitive format, but this show is very much about guys helping each other.

"Its unusual to see a man opening up, crying on camera, and other guys helping him go through a difficult situation. Its very supportive and you dont see that often on TV."

For the latest incarnation of Queer Eye, producers have employed a whole new "Fab Five", who each have their own specialist areas - culture, fashion, grooming, food and design.

The basic format of the show remains the same, but producers have moved it from New York to Americas Deep South in an attempt to reach out to more conservative men, who may not necessarily have had much contact with gay people in the past.

The new episodes have helped the show rack up a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a string of high-profile fans - including Nick Grimshaw, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Jo Whiley, Sarah Millican and Modern Familys Jessie Tyler Ferguson.

"Its a makeover show, but its unlike any other makeover show Ive ever seen," Bryan says.

"With this, they spend equal, if not more, time working on the struggles of that person, its as much about their emotional wellbeing as the physical space they live in. It makes viewers think very much about themselves, their own lives, what they need.

"For example, when I watched one episode, I went to go and buy stuff for my flat because for so long I felt Id been neglecting buying stuff for myself. And the central theme of the episode had been about how you can look after yourself as well as others."

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