“If the Fab 5 came to our house, Antoni wouldn’t have much to do but Tan would go crazy with your closet,” my 8-year-old son told me yesterday while seeing no irony at all in his wardrobe choice of graphic tee and sweat shorts.
The twins and I have been watching Queer Eye together over the last week. “Wait, what?”, you say. Is that even appropriate for 8-year-olds? As my daughter would say, don’t judge a book by its cover. And really, that is the basis of the whole show. Every episode seeks to help people find their own confidence so that they can go out into the world and be who they were meant to be. Sounds a bit like the Hallmark channel? In large respects, it is. But so so much cooler. And with sometimes inappropriate to 8-year-olds but over their heads so whatever humor. We are totally on this bandwagon.
I never watched the original Bravo series mostly because I didn’t really watch TV at that time. Lies. I watched Gilmore Girls almost religiously.
In my defense, we only had like 10 channels and Bravo wasn’t one of them. (Can we pause and talk about how this was the period in which we lived in Los Angeles, the center of screen culture, but we didn’t watch TV? There are so many things wrong with that.) Anyway, I knew what the series was and had a vague social understanding of who was who within the show (because Los Angeles), but it wasn't until we were in New York earlier this month with advertisements for the reboot at every subway entrance that it occurred to me to watch it. And the fact that it was Pride Month, thus rainbows appeared on windows all over New York City, made me think perhaps the kids should watch it also.
The small town Georgia locations of the first few episodes gave me the initial impression that this would be a show about straight people accepting gay people by making connections. I thought this would be good for my kids to see because, in their little bubble, they don’t know anyone who is not accepting of gay people (the reality is that they do know people who are homophobic, they just don’t realize it). These are children who were too little to understand the momentousness of Obergefell v. Hodges. They have no context for the history of bias against the LGBT community. My idealist mom self thought it be great to have a platform to talk about how we learn about people who are different than we are, how our assumptions can be wrong, how we connect to others, and how we can – to simplify at an 8-year-old level – make the world a better place? I know, I know. Pollyanna. But when your kids have no context for the discussion because they can’t see a difference, you’ve got to show them somehow, right? Let's not kid ourselves. I wanted to watch it, therefore I rationalized. It's a parent's prerogative to rationalize our own behavior as something that might benefit our kids. Glad I can keep it real for you all.
Continuing with the truth talk, Queer Eye has been so much better than I expected. For all of us. This is a show about people. It is not about being gay or straight. It isn’t about looking good for the sake of looking good. It really is about the makeover that happens within when someone opens a door for you to believe in yourself. It is about opening our eyes to possibility.
We rarely watch a full episode without me pausing the TV to ask the kids if they understand what is going on, what they think about a scenario, what they would do in this instance or that. I dare anyone to challenge me that the first episode of season 2 ("God Bless Gay" - spoiler alert, that link is to a review of the episode) is not family television. There are conversations about being black while driving a car, religious tolerance, coming out, family dynamic, helping others, acceptance and love, self-care, respecting your partner, parenting… These are big issues and they are addressed with compassion and humor. Maybe they aren't addressed with the depth that we need them to be addressed, but anywhere a real discussion can start in this country right now seems better than nothing.
So to my son's point yesterday, I’d be happy to have the Fab 5 over to my house. Yes, my closet needs a ton of work. So do my grooming (lack of) routine, my kitchen habits, and my self-confidence. I’d love to chat design with Bobby, who does some amazing design work on the show in very short spurts of time and with a lot of help from IKEA (designer talk, sorry all). And P.S. to the Fab 5? While y’all are here, can you work on my son to get rid of his sweatpants and crocs? Thanks in advance.