Queer Eye takes on the world’s ‘miserable men’

Man up: The show also discusses issues of race, religion and sexuality. © Netflix

Can five gay men save masculinity? The third season of Netflix’s Queer Eye is released today. Its mission: to help struggling men who “can’t articulate what they’re truly feeling.”

“Ask for help,” says Tan France in the trailer for season three of Queer Eye. “You’re not invincible,” says Antoni Porowski. “Sometimes you just need a little support,” says Bobby Berk.

They are three of Netflix’s “Fab Five”: gay men who transform the lives of struggling Americans. The show’s newest season is released today.

Although there are more women getting makeovers in this season, most of the show is about men.

Today’s men are “feeling like they can’t articulate what they’re truly feeling,” France told the BBC this month. They think “they have to conform to what's expected of a man.”

Indeed, two-thirds of young British men feel under pressure to be “hyper-masculine”, according to a YouGov survey published last year. Over half feel that society expects them to get by without asking for emotional support.

So what is Queer Eye’s solution? Listening to men’s problems, for one thing. Encouraging them to be more open about their emotions. Plus more traditional makeovers: new clothes, haircuts and redecorating their home.

“It’s exciting to be a man right now,” Karamo Brown (the show’s “culture” expert) told Esquire last year. “We don’t have to be a certain way, we don’t have to act the way that our grandfathers [did].”

Yas queens

Can a TV show really change how men behave? The Fab Five tell men to open up, find confidence, ask for help when they need it… is this a good message that all of us need to hear? Or empty advice that skims over society’s deeper problems?

And what about Queer Eye’s focus on looks? It is, in the end, a makeover show; the life advice comes alongside new clothes and skincare routines. Some have criticised it for suggesting that good looks will fix someone’s problems. Is this just adding more pressure on people?

You Decide

  1. Does society put too much pressure on men?

Activities

  1. As a class, take it in turns to write down words that you associate with masculinity. Then discuss: what does this tell you about men and boys in 2019? Are the words mostly positive or negative?

Some People Say...

“Manliness consists not in bluff, bravado or loneliness. It consists in daring to do the right thing.”

Mahatma Gandhi

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Queer Eye’s third season is released on Netflix today. The show is available in 190 countries, including some where LGBT people are far less accepted.
What do we not know?
How many people watch the show, as Netflix is famously cagey about its viewing figures. We also do not know what percentage of its viewers are men, or whether it is changing the way they act.

Word Watch

Queer Eye
The show is a remake of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which was broadcast between 2003-07. It dropped the second half of the name in order to makeover women and LGBT men.
Hyper-masculine
Extremely “manly”. For example, the idea that men should always be strong, aggressive and never talk about feelings.
YouGov survey
Based on 2,058 British adults. The survey found that 67% of 18 to 24-year-olds “believe they are pressured to display hyper-masculine behaviour”, as opposed to just 30% of those aged 45 and older.

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