The new sixth season reveals an even more self-aware show about universal love.

“See, liberals can be fun,” Jonathan Van Ness cheekily quips as the Fab Five wash a cowboy’s hair for what seems like the first time in a very long time in a new episode of Netflix’s Emmy-winning LGBTQ hit, Queer Eye. It’s a moment reminiscent to Bravo’s original Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, a show in which the main conceit was fabulous queer men making over a slovenly straight man; the gays help the straight become less encumbered by toxic masculinity, and the straight person, awash with gratitude, decides not to be a homophobe anymore. It was a revolutionary show for 2003, but like most things, within its time capsule, it had its problems. In hindsight, the show mildly perpetuated stereotypes, and it could be criticized as fetishizing, othering, and mocking — but that doesn’t negate the show as a pioneer of queer representation. And thankfully, the Fab Five of Antoni, Jonathan, Tan, Karamo and Bobby, who picked up the torch in 2018 for Netflix’s rebrand, has brought the show up to speed. Now, instead of the early 2000s’ message of “we can all get along,” the sentiment feels more like “we can all accept each other for who we are” — a subtle but poignant difference. In 2022, it is a message that is as heartwarming as it is powerful, making the show far more than makeover reality TV.

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