I loved “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” back in the day. So when I learned they were revamping the series for Netflix, I was buckled up for a binge session. For those who never watched, a group of gay men come to help a (usually) straight man in the areas of style, grooming, culinary skills, culture and decorating.
Thankfully, this new and improved version does not disappoint. Not only are there two men of color on the cast now; one Black and one Middle Eastern, (There were only White men before.) the show really pushes tough conversations in ways that I don’t remember the first one doing.
Tough conversations like correcting a straight man who asked one of the married gay experts which one was the husband and which one was the wife in his marriage. Or Karamo Brown, the Black man, having a heartfelt chat about police brutality and Black Lives Matter with a current police officer. (The conversation had its problematic elements but it was generally a positive discussion.)
As a woman, I took a particular interest in Tan France, the Pakistani-English fashion aficionado with expertly dyed and spectacularly coiffed silver hair. Not only is the man beautiful. He always asks the married men on the show, a very pertinent question.
“What are you doing to ensure that your wife is still attracted to you?”
It’s a question that leaves a lot of men with a dumbfounded look. After all, it’s not a question men are used to hearing. Society rewards them for the bare minimum, just showing up. But for France it’s not enough. To nail the point home further, he points to the client’s partner, who consistently looks like she’s been putting forth some type of effort while her man looks like who done it and why. With the exception of one father, who was literally getting two hours of sleep to support his family, the rest of the men had no excuse. And no answer to France’s question.
In an interview with Time.com, France says the inquiry comes from lived experience. And while looking at him, you might assume France’s partner was the one who fell off, he said it was actually something else.
“My boyfriend dumped me because I let myself go. And not just with my clothing, in every facet of life.”
France said that he fell into the routine of consistently wearing sweatpants, staying in and not considering his partner’s perception of him. It’s a pattern he recognizes in the men he helps. Except the dynamics are a bit different because women are conditioned and then pressured to look a certain way for their male partners while just don’t.
France says, “I think that men need to take as much ownership of that as women do.”
It made me question the ways in which men do and don’t show up for their female partners, when a lot of women already come to the table willing to compromise, especially in the looks department.
This past Christmas, I noticed that my father was wearing vests and button up shirts to just lounge around my uncle’s house. It wasn’t long before my uncle asked about it.
“Edward, man, you going somewhere later with that vest on?”
My dad, who essentially drives for a living, said, “I’m wearing this for Carol (my mom), she doesn’t get to see me dressed up that often.”
I know my mom and I know that she likely doesn’t care about my father’s day to day attire. She actually spends most of her time in lounge or activewear, too. Still, I thought it was nice that he considered her in his efforts.