An Analysis of Extreme Makeover Shows – The Minnesota Daily

Are they more than just plain eye-catching?

by Caroline Cohen

When the new season of “Queer Eye” finally dropped on December 31, I waited impatiently, equipped with tissues and popcorn. It had been over a year since I had seen the Fab Five bomb a local humanitarian and reward them with the ultimate week-long lifestyle makeover, and I was ready for some quality binge-watching. . Netflix’s reboot of the early 2000s hit series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” premiered in 2018 to huge critical acclaim. The principle is the same, and it’s simple: five LGBTQ+ people use their expertise in fashion, food, interior design, beauty care and lifestyle to help a nominated guest become the very new and better version of themselves. Watching, I cried, laughed and had my whole family binge the season with me. I thought about how I could find a way to name myself, but came across a better idea:

I turned to my older brother and said, “I’ll nominate you for ‘Queer Eye’!”

Lacking the level of enthusiasm I expected, he said, “Caroline, that’s really, really offensive.”

I started thinking about makeovers in general – getting a whole new haircut, a new manicure, and treating yourself to a fun activity. “Queer Eye” preaches that doing these things for yourself will lead to a more fulfilling and confident life. But isn’t that incredibly materialistic? Doesn’t suggesting that someone needs these things mean that they are not beautiful, healthy or happy as they already are? Is it painfully futile of me to tell my brother he needs a makeover all his life, or am I nudging him in a positive direction he so badly needs?

In a typical “Queer Eye” episode, the Fab Five surprise the recipient of the week’s makeover (called the hero) at their home, where they loot every inch of the hero’s property. This includes, but is not limited to: their wardrobe, kitchen, bathroom drawers, family photo albums, and bedroom. Despite the excruciatingly contagious positivity of the Fab Five, they don’t hide their reactions. They mock, tease and mock the hero through long, indirect compliments as the hero sees his life examined on national television. This scene, arguably the funniest part of the series, is by far the most painful for the hero. Five strangers just walked into their safe space and told them what was wrong.

As the world develops a more vocal and conscious view of mental health, I’m surprised that makeover shows like “Queer Eye” have aged well. Ever since Instagram became the kingpin of comparison, the world of social media has fought and fought its way into the body-positive movements and is now seemingly the space for self-acceptance. Yet the negative self-perception has only increased, and I can’t help but feel that seeing happiness be achieved only through full-body transformation rehearsed on our televisions is not the solution to the cyber shame.

So where is the balance? How do we show our self-love while acknowledging that we could be, look and feel better? As a megafan, I know “Queer Eye” does life-changing work. I’ve seen the heroes stand taller and smile wider at the end of their week and follow them on social media as they continue to grow. “Queer Eye” encourages me to find the clothes I feel confident and comfortable in, to try foods outside of my comfort zone, to connect with the people in my life, and to want more for myself – but I can’t help but feel that shows that glorifying extreme makeovers meet the unattainable standards of beauty we strive to refute.

Compared to other reality TV shows, “Queer Eye” is a gem (can you imagine if “The Biggest Loser” was still on TV?!). The main difference between “Queer Eye” and other more toxic makeover shows is how the Fab Five try to move past the superficial aspects of the makeover and ensure that their hero receives the full care and sincerity that the show has. to offer. Karamo Brown, the Five’s “culture” expert, takes the week off to dive into a spiritual makeover. He works with the loved ones of the heroes to fully understand the obstacles that prevent their authentic happiness. This is where the show becomes emotionally powerful: the hero is given a week dedicated to licking his wounds and exploring the best parts of himself. Karamo, the cultural host, can take the hero to a historical society to research family roots, to a kickboxing class to release latent anger, or to a family member’s home to facilitate much-needed conversation.

This is where “Queer Eye” not only takes off, but also breaks away from the superficiality of reality television. The core of the show is about caring for people and giving back to people, unlike past shows which hoped clothes could provide that instead. As an audience, we need to keep this in mind, that material things are worthless without the effort and strength to improve ourselves. The materialistic elements of “Queer Eye” are the supporting beams of the house of self-love and improvement, and when you step back to see the bigger picture, every brick falls into place.

About Thomas Hereford

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