Yesterday I finished watching season one of the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. I was a big fan of the original series and was curious how the new series would compare. Both the cast and location are different, with five new men helping out and they’re located in Atlanta instead of New York.
Personally, I enjoy the new series. While the original was very groundbreaking as a concept, it stayed in the New York area for the most part. With Atlanta as the new location, the Fab Five travel to areas where people hold more conservative values. The original series, while groundbreaking, pretty much stayed local to areas that were more open. Not to say that what they did wasn’t difficult, it was, because the country had not yet come near as far as it did in 2015.
What critics of the new series fail to see is that in the South much of the prejudice still exists in force. While Atlanta is a major metropolitan center, the rest of Georgia is very conservative. While other areas of the country have been welcoming to diversity, states around the South have dug in their heels. In defiance to Obergefell v Hodges, Alabama is currently considering changing their marriage laws. Rather than perform weddings for people they don’t approve of they’d rather get out of the business entirely. In my home state of Tennessee legislators are trying to pass an amendment to the state constitution to say that liberty only comes from “Almighty God”. In Georgia, the state legislature just passed a bill that allows agencies to discriminate against LGBTQ+ couples for adoption.
The Fab Five go out to towns near Atlanta and help people out. Often these people may be surrounded by or themselves be people who hold values that have resisted equality for people who are different from them. In episode three, they go to meet a Trump supporting NASCAR fan who also happens to be a cop in a small town near Atlanta. One of the scenes is excerpts from an extended discussion between Karamo Brown and the officer. While only the highlights are shown, it was quite apparent that the extended conversation between the two of them has opened doors for them both. Karamo had been initially nervous about the encounter but their conversation opens a window into what reaching across the aisles should look like. While both men come from completely different backgrounds and have very different worldviews, both are able to see common ground and come to an understanding. Karamo’s frankness and honesty are traits I sometimes struggle to employ but that conversation showed me the true value of those tools.
As a country we are very divided right now. Moderate voices on both sides are calling out for open dialogue and healing the rifts that have divided us but we need examples of people doing these things. I think the Fab Five can open the doors to conversation between the left and right. By being the people to go out and be willing to reach across to people who have discriminated against them, they seek to disarm the exact propaganda that seeks to cast them aside.