OPINION: “Queer Eye” comes out swinging in Philly, new season airs on Netflix

Reality TV is often an embarrassing amusement many would rather keep hidden within their couches and streaming history. Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” however, is one of the exceptions that many aren’t ashamed to admit they binge.

Two years and five seasons in, the revamped fab five have worked their way into our collective hearts, keeping it honest yet inspiring to both the contestants and viewers. This most recent season has the fab five hitting the constitution capital, Philadelphia. Normally, I try to fight against binge-watching television shows, as I feel quite empty after watching an obscene amount of television in a short amount of time. However, due to an indefinite amount of free time, I watched the whole season in one day. Like with the previous seasons of “Queer Eye,” my expectations were met and satisfied. 

The setting of Philly was a welcome change, as the majority of previous episodes were set in small-towns or tinier cities. With the city setting of Philly however, the fab five seem like they could fit right in with the city. This makes them seem a bit more down to earth when compared with past seasons. 

The fourth episode, titled “The North Philadelphia Story,” stood out to me the most. The episode focuses on 27-year-old Tyreek. He works in the non-profit field in Northern Philly and had recently moved into his first apartment after being homeless. His personality isn’t over the top but doesn’t blend totally behind the fab five in all their exuberance. Tyreek compliments perfectly with the guys, specifically with Karamo Brown, the cultural expert (or therapist, depending on the episode) who reunited him with his estranged adoptive mother. It’s a touching episode that shows someone who’s had a turbulent upbringing make something of himself and keep a forward-looking mindset. The reunion of Tyreek and his mother (over some delicious looking crab legs) is genuinely heartwarming and will make you feel way too many things. 

The second episode that stood out to me was the seventh episode, “Silver Lining Sweeney.” This episode focuses on a mother of three, Jennifer Sweeney, who’s also caring for her husband with ALS. This episode made my heart hurt the most from how sweet and happy it was. It shows the importance of self-care, even in times of turmoil. There’s one scene of Sweeney and Karamo walking through the woods, discussing how she has to put herself on the back burner due to her husband’s illness. Karamo points out, however, that since she’s not putting anything back into herself, once the bottom truly drops out, she will not be able to handle the situation. That was a bittersweet moment, but I feel like the reality of those circumstances can relate to many of those in similar situations that might not feel like self-care should be on their list of priorities. 

That’s really where I think the strongest parts of “Queer Eye” lie. Sure, it’s fun to watch someone get a physical or house makeover, the before and after is often quite satisfying. Their reactions to both can also be very emotionally stirring, as some contestants have cried to both. The more emotional makeovers, and emotional discussions, can affect both the contestants and the viewers at home. Some older viewers might have limited exposure to LGBTQ people or have negative stereotypes about them. “Queer Eye,” however, can reshape those perspectives or at least plant the seeds of change. The idea of self-care can also follow along with that, as many older generations see self-care as a selfish thing only those without problems can do. But it is a vital thing that is important to everybody, no matter what is going on in their lives. I really admire “Queer Eye” for cementing how important that is for all and perhaps maybe allowing people to take care of themselves for once. 

So, if you need a dose of something positive for a couple of hours, “Queer Eye” season five will definitely fill that void and possibly make you cry as well.

Contact Grace-Marie Burton at [email protected].