PS Picks: 'Queer Eye' Reboots Masculinity

PS Picks is a selection of the best things that the magazine's staff and contributors are reading, watching, or otherwise paying attention to in the worlds of art, politics, and culture.
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Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, and Karamo Brown attend the after party for the premiere of Netflix's Queer Eye on February 7th, 2018, in West Hollywood, California.

Jonathan Van Ness, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, and Karamo Brown attend the after party for the premiere of Netflix's Queer Eye on February 7th, 2018, in West Hollywood, California.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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Netflix's reboot of Queer Eye is the most important show of 2018. That is not something I expected to say about what is ostensibly a makeover show, but here I am, saying it. I didn't expect Queer Eye to be a show about so much more than taking a semi-tragic, often straight white male and encouraging him to dress better, eat better, and learn to actually listen to other people. I didn't expect the show to be more of a referendum on the idea of masculinity. I didn't expect it to get me thinking about what it means to be a man.

But that's kind of the whole thing about Queer Eye, it's always giving you more than you would expect. The Fab Five (Jonathan, Karamo, Antoni, Tan, and Bobby) burst into these men's lives and do far more than give them new clothes and furniture. They show these often straight white men that it's OK to have emotions, show affection, to cry, to do everything that makes us people. I thought of this because, after yet another mass shooting, the debate around the idea of "toxic masculinity" has sprung up with force. The question remains: How do we address the fact that so many young boys grow into violent, angry men?

I think showing boys this show is one small way to help address this problem. Let them see that it's OK to be vulnerable, affectionate, and loving with other men. Show them that their fears and self-doubt are something to be expressed and addressed openly—not things to be repressed into malignant balls of internal anguish. It's a small step, but seeing the men on this show open-up with glee, I think, speaks to the need that this show addresses, that many of us need to re-think what it means to be a man.

This PS Pick originally appeared in The Lede, the weekly Pacific Standard email newsletter for premium members. The Lede gives premium members greater access to Pacific Standard stories, staff, and contributors in their inbox every week. While helping to support journalism in the public interest, members also receive a print magazine subscription, early access to feature stories, and access to an ad-free version of PSmag.com.

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