Carson Kressley | Film and TV | Jai Rodriguez | Kyan Douglas | Queer Eye for the Straight Guy | Ross Mathews | RuPaul | Tabatha Coffey | Television | The Beekman Boys | Thom Filicia

The TV Legacy Of 'Queer Eye For The Straight Guy': VIDEO


When Queer Eye For the Straight Guy premiered in July of 2003, cell phones still had buttons, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was still months away from becoming the first state to recognize same-sex marriage and no Kardashians had their own TV show.

Queer Eye was not only a surprise hit, but it also became a cultural phenomenon. After five seasons, Carson Kressley, Jai Rodriguez, Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas and Thom Filicia were household names. The original Fab Five will reunite on Bravo Sunday at 9 p.m. Eastern on a special Queer Eye Reunion: 10 Years Later, hosted by Andy Cohen.

A decade later, the reality program's societal impact is still up for some debate. Some applaud the show's ability to expose a broader audience to gay people, while others criticize its reliance on stereotypes.

Whatever Queer Eye's cultural legacy may be, it's left an indelible mark on the television landscape, paving the way for some of the shows we love today.

Check out a few of the shows influenced by Queer Eye For the Straight Guy, AFTER THE JUMP …


Tabatha Takes Over

To be fair, almost all of Bravo's recent shows owe some degree of gratitude to Queer Eye for transforming the network from a high-brow arts channel to the more gay-friendly, pop-culture driven brand we know today. Tabatha in particular feels like the next iteration of the Queer Eye model -- an LGBT guru delivers expertise (and witticisms) to those in desperate need of an intervention.

Hello Ross

Part of the appeal of Queer Eye was the likability of the Fab Five. Yes, they could be shrill, but they were ultimately sincere and good-natured. TV personality Ross Mathews has built his image with similar sweetness and established himself as a present-day pop-culture maven. One could see Mathews taking Jai Rodriguez's spot, if Queer Eye was recreated today.

The Chew

Even though What Not To Wear predated Queer Eye, much less fuss was centered around host Clinton Kelly's sexuality and it never rose to the same level of prominence. Kelly's current food-centric talk show, The Chew, has grown at least partially from post-Queer Eye Bravo's hit Top Chef (former Top Chef contestant Carla Hall is also a co-host). Not to mention the effect of Ted Allen introducing fine food and wine to straight guys (and audiences) everywhere.

The Fabulous Beekman Boys

Just as Queer Eye was a big part of the sweeping "metrosexual" trend of the early-'00s, husbands Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge are reflecting the kind of rustic-revival playing out across Pinterest pictures of mason jars, handmade goods on Etsy and musical acts like Mumford & Sons and the Lumineers. In addition to chronicling the pair's transition from city boys to farm living, it's hard not to spot a little bit of Queer Eye in some of Beekman Boys' supplemental how-to videos.


RuPauls' Drag U

At the end of the day, Queer Eye's makeovers were never just about the clothes and the hair; they were about helping people change on the inside. On Drag U, where the outfits and makeup are taken to outrageous extremes, the experience transcends the typical makeover to place an even bigger emphasis on the overall transformation.

What other shows do you think were influenced by Queer Eye For the Straight Guy?

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  1. I think you mean 2003!

    Posted by: rustytrawler | Oct 18, 2013 1:30:43 PM

  2. It was not 2013.

    Posted by: Joe in Ct | Oct 18, 2013 1:33:06 PM

  3. Crab people! Crab people!

    Posted by: litper | Oct 18, 2013 1:35:46 PM

  4. I am not feeling nostalgic for "Queer Eye". I have an aversion to Carson Kressley. Highlight a real show like "Will and Grace". This show told America that we were hairdressers, interior decorators, chefs, and label queens. And we liked skin care products. Some legacy.

    Posted by: will | Oct 18, 2013 1:45:03 PM

  5. And the legacy of Stonewall would say we're all crossdressers. These people fighting for change and making a difference don't have to look or be like you -- particularly if that you is some butch masc guy constantly feeling the need to remind everyone that he's not like the other "queens".

    Posted by: jake | Oct 18, 2013 1:54:22 PM

  6. yes. it's a shameful and embarrassing stereotype that we gays are associated with being paragons of culture and style and taste ;-)

    the show was fun. i think what upset the naysayers so much is that those "stereotypical guys" were embraced. when the type of gay you've been conditioned to feel is "lesser" than you is Out in the world, enjoying life, and being embraced by people, it often burns the self-haters to their core; for all their self-styled "non-stereotypical" affectation, they've not found the acceptance, resilience and joy that *those Queens* have found.

    it's bitter projection. when a guy says "You're only accepted because you fit some mold of a stereotype that straight people want you to be" what he's really saying is "I do the exact opposite of what you're doing and yet I'm still not accepted, embraced, or loved"

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Oct 18, 2013 2:03:32 PM

  7. The show exposed millions of Americans to real gay men. It showed straight men interacting with gay men in a way that had not been shown before- as equals, confidants, problem solvers. Queer Eye changed a lot of attitudes among adults and helped shape the attitudes of younger kids, just like the gay and lesbian kids on The Real World and Ellen.

    Posted by: homer | Oct 18, 2013 2:08:22 PM

  8. good

    Posted by: hadepejju | Oct 18, 2013 2:14:23 PM

  9. @Jake, please let them fight for trans rights, but gay rights are different thing!

    Posted by: litper | Oct 18, 2013 2:15:22 PM

  10. Little Kiwi nails it.

    But over and above all "Queer Eye" was enormous fun that never took itself too seriously.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Oct 18, 2013 2:18:14 PM

  11. Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Gator Boys. My how far society has evolved since the Fab 5 set the trends in motion.

    Posted by: Rad | Oct 18, 2013 2:18:25 PM

  12. A "real show like Will & Grace?" That's rich. Let's see... a neurotic single womn who can't sustain a relationshiip, a money-hungry female lush who degrades and takes advantage of the men & people of color she has(or used to have in her life, a neurotic single gay man and his flambouyant gym-bunny, fashion forward, man gazing best friend.

    Ah yes, Will & Grace. A real show, written by & for heterosexuals. That's a much better example.

    Posted by: Karen Jack | Oct 18, 2013 2:18:51 PM

  13. It was good because it was before the warped reality of a gay "married" newscaster, selling out severely persecuted gays in a major foreign country.

    Posted by: PC | Oct 18, 2013 2:28:31 PM

  14. Jai Rodriguez was so useless. A total filler. I never understood why he was on the show.

    Posted by: SamIam | Oct 18, 2013 2:31:00 PM

  15. What I really hated was Carson Kressley taking a nice-looking guy and then dressing him in ruffles and scarves and pastels and "slimming pants". He took a perfectly fine looking guy and queened him up.

    Posted by: will | Oct 18, 2013 2:39:27 PM

  16. The thing is, Queer Eye, Will and Grace, softened people on homosexuality because it allowed people to see us as...real people. Not freaks. Not demented, and not out trying to get anyone. That's the primary thing. Ellen is another pioneer. Pedro Zamora. As people saw these gay, lesbian men and women on air, they realized we do have value as people and we're really not that bad, quite the opposite.

    Yes, stereotypes still run rampant but that's a separate issue, and doesn't have any relevance to the impact Queer Eye did have on Americans.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | Oct 18, 2013 2:43:02 PM

  17. I wrote about the 10 year anniversary of Queer Eye on my style blog last month.( When I realized it had been a decade since the show aired, I realized how important the guys have been in making homosexuals more visible. They also helped pave the way for countless design shows.

    Posted by: Captain Dapper | Oct 18, 2013 2:49:06 PM

  18. Queer Eye left a stain, not a legacy. It's the stain of camp stereotypes designed to amuse straights and make them feel good about not being gay.

    Posted by: Brian | Oct 18, 2013 3:12:24 PM

  19. Brian comes on to prove me right. Invest in a bidet and get that sand out of your vagina.

    Posted by: Little Kiwi | Oct 18, 2013 3:35:33 PM

  20. I found Queer Eye to be totally inoffensive. Yeah, the guys specialized in areas that are considered stereotypically gay: fashion, grooming, decorating, and cooking, but it came across as an honest desire to help, not criticize.

    In fact, my mother was a big fan of the show and it was through talking about it that she was finally able to talk to her church-lady friends about the fact that she has two gay sons. They might critique the clothes and decor, but they all agreed that "those boys" were very nice and were really trying to leave their clients better off than they found them. That's a much better stereotype than that of the judgemental snap-queen and I think it did change some minds, made gay men seem less foreign.

    Posted by: Caliban | Oct 18, 2013 3:39:51 PM

  21. Cell phones still had buttons? My, my... how antediluvian!

    Posted by: bierce | Oct 18, 2013 3:41:22 PM

  22. Kyan was the narcissistic one. He still is to this very day. Carson was the Phyllis Diller wannabe. Thom was the lesbian. Ted was the "please stay away from me" in the bar. And Jai was the after thought.

    Posted by: GB | Oct 18, 2013 4:27:54 PM

  23. @Lil Kiwi: Hmm. Ok. Well, I admit I grimace at the thought of queer eye for the straight guy-- and I have never had the patience for a whiole episode. I'm not affecting when I'm not all fey; I'm just being ME. Ever since high school, in some ways I envied the obviously gay guys: they didn't HAVE to FEEL like they were hiding because without even disclosing ANYTHING, they took on tons of backlash from mean fellow students who assumed their sexual orientation, and treated them poorly. I never treated them poorly, but I didn't have to face what they did. In some ways, I didn't GET to face that--as these more obvi kids DID face it, front and center, and owned it early because they had to. Meanwhile, I was genuinely unsure for a while, and then went through kind of a crisis when I found myself hooking up with my best (male) friend in college, and then feeling frustrated because I hadn't really prepared for owning this new identity.

    So, no, Kiwi, it doesn't mean I'm self-loathing for not acting super fem all of a sudden. That has never been ME, and the pressure from straight people for me to be stereotypical as soon as I come out to them is wierd and a little uncomfortable to me. I mean, to the extent I have a feminine side, I think I've gotten in touch with it, in part because I come out, and people wonder why I'm not super flamey.

    But, kiwi, this isn't me devaluing guys who ARE more fem or flamey, whatever. I'm just trying to get you to understand that there is FAR more to it than some partially-imagined bias against effeminacy among gay men.

    More to the point, Kiwi, my frustration about the straight community's impulse to erase my identity as just a regular guy who happens to like NOT about YOU, lil kiwi. Nor does it inherently involve ANY devaluing of effeminacy. (Heck, the IDEA of gender play has even become a tad erotic to me, probably because so many straight AND gay people act like they EXPECT some femmy performance from me. In practice, I can't be someone I'm not, though.)

    In short: kiwi, do you GET that my concerns are NOT about YOU?!:-).

    And, more on topic, do you mind that the queer-eye idea boors--and bugs--me? ;-). (And of course you'll psycho-analyze me? Lol; if so, let's hear it!)

    Posted by: Just_a_guy | Oct 18, 2013 5:14:56 PM

  24. Legend in His Own Mind Little Kiwi posits himself as The More Liberated Than Thou Defender of all of us stereotypical gays, then resorts to misogyny ("Invest in a bidet and get that sand out of your vagina") to slime someone who dares disagree with him. Fail.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Oct 18, 2013 5:26:06 PM

  25. "The thing is, Queer Eye, Will and Grace, softened people on homosexuality because it allowed people to see us as....real people"

    Wrong, wrong, wrong. Do you think it is a coincidence that the only gay male characters that have been accepted by straight audiences--including the characters on Modern Family--are silly, prissy, stereotypical queens?

    These characters are all laughing stocks and if you don't see that, then you are as blind as a bat. They allow straights to isolate "gay" in a box, a box that is non-threatening because it is detached from the mainstream of society.....the way gay hairdressers, interior decorators, and florists have always been accepted in feminine roles, but rejected in masculine roles.

    Portraying gay men as masculine and powerful remains strictly taboo, because that would be deeply threatening to society, since it would suggest that heterosexuality and masculinity are not synonomous--and if that idea ever becomes accepted, then the prevailing culture in which men attach themselves emotionally to women and only women would be doomed, with all kinds of consequences flowing from it.

    So stop kidding yourselves. Effeminate gay men are simply clowns to laugh at.....and their continued presence, in the total absence of any non-effeminate gay men is an indicator of NON-acceptance, NOT of acceptance.

    Posted by: Rick | Oct 18, 2013 5:31:04 PM

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