On Wednesday (Feb. 7), the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (retitled simply Queer Eye) debuted, with a new Fab Five and a more earnest outlook at its subject matter. The reviews are in, and critics say that the show is more than your average reboot — this is a retooling that improves on the original show’s premise.
Critics agreed that the skepticism for the show’s return was warranted — a lot has changed in the 15 years since the original’s debut. “What they were worried about, chiefly, was that the show’s return engagement would proceed as if the intervening decade hadn’t happened, blithely ignoring the seismic cultural shifts the country has undergone, with respect to the LGBT community,” NPR’s Glen Weldon said in his review.
But many praised the show’s newfound sense of deep empathy, with each of the eight new episodes coming with conversations on the modern LGBTQ experience. “There’s more to the 2018 version than gay-straight dynamics (hence, no ‘for the Straight Guy’ in the title),” said James Poniewozik of the New York Times. “One touching episode involves a gay man, preparing to come out to his family, who has always dressed to avoid ‘looking gay’ — a recognition that there is more than one way (or five) to live one’s sexuality.”
Overall, critics were pleasantly surprised that Queer Eye didn’t feel like an undeserved retreading of the same ground from the original show. “It is one thing to become a phenomenon unexpectedly, because what you do strikes a nerve, and another trying to repeat a phenomenon,” the Los Angeles Times’ Robert Lloyd wrote. “In a way, the new ‘Queer Eye’ is about the old ‘Queer Eye’ and its incidental real-world effects — bringing a marginalized community into the mainstream, educating the straight world and providing models for LGBTQ people, including some members of the present cast.”
The show is available to stream on Netflix now.