Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

<B>Billed as a "make better" show rather than a makeover extravaganza, "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" is the first feel-good primetime reality series: There are no hurt feelings, everybody has lots of laughs and the "victim" walks away with a few handy pointers. "Queer Eye's" camera-conscious Fab 5 team takes over the lifestyle of a disoriented straight male in each hour and makes alterations that, in the first two episodes, leave everyone overjoyed. That the Straight Guy in question isn't so much made over as refocused helps make this hour fun and refreshing.</B>

With:
With: Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, Jai Rodriguez.

Billed as a “make better” show rather than a makeover extravaganza, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” is the first feel-good primetime reality series: There are no hurt feelings, everybody has lots of laughs and the “victim” walks away with a few handy pointers. “Queer Eye’s” camera-conscious Fab 5 team takes over the lifestyle of a disoriented straight male in each hour and makes alterations that, in the first two episodes, leave everyone overjoyed. That the Straight Guy in question isn’t so much made over as refocused helps make this hour fun and refreshing.

A big plus is the vivaciousness of the Fab 5, especially sassy fashion consultant Carson Kressley and Ted Allen, the deep-voiced expert on food and wine, who have commanding onscreen presences. The quintet’s on-air naturalness, combined with David Schewel’s smoothly edited segs, distinguish the show from other, more matter-of-fact changeover show. Production team delivers a top-notch effort in the first two episodes.

“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” is among the catchiest titles to come down the pike in some time, and thankfully it has not caused a stir in any community. Title alone should attract eyeballs to Bravo, which beyond its “Inside the Actors Studio” interviews has yet to establish a show worthy of appointment viewing. “Queer Eye” has the potential to change that.

The first guinea pig is artist Butch whose day job is in theatrical construction on and Off Broadway. His studio apartment is a dump, he wears paint-splattered overalls and T-shirts and his beard and long hair are more lumberjack than lithographer. His art, though, has some potential.

Thom Filicia, the show’s resident design doctor, stays at Butch’s apartment and starts organizing things as the others expose Butch to clothing that dresses up his style plus a new tousled hairstyle that softens his look considerably. They arrange for a showing of his artwork and Allen guides the artist through a simple pizza-making recipe. (What’s cool is how the pizza design borrows elements of his artwork.)

While transformation of the artist, known as either Butch or Brian depending on who’s addressing him, is detailed nicely, viewers will wonder how the astonishing transformation of his apartment came together in the same amount of time it took to get a haircut and new duds. Other than that time-cheating element, these alterations seemingly occur within the span of just a few days.

Other members of the Fab 5 are Kyan Douglas (grooming guru) and Jai Rodriguez (culture consultant).

First two episodes — the second airs at 11 p.m. and involves a Long Island toy-cluttered suburban home that belongs to a hockey-loving, birthday-forgetting man and his wife — find the Fab 5 dealing with gracious guys willing to go along with their suggestions. They’re not asked to do anything outrageous and everything is quite congenial; it will be interesting to see the Fab 5 confront someone with the word “no” in his vocabulary.

As is to be expected, there’s plenty of product and store placement, though for the most part, there’s no feeling that “Queer Eye” has slid into an infomercial. Only when Douglas asks a hairstylist, “What kind of shampoo are you using?” does the product placement feel forced.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Series; Bravo, Tues. July 15, 10 p.m.

Production: Taped in New York by Scout Prods. Executive producers, David Collins, Michael Williams, Francis Berwick, Amy Introcaso-Davis, Christian Barcellos; producer, Craig H. Shepherd; supervising producer, Lynn Sadofsky.

Crew: Camera, Michael Pearlman; editor, David Schewel; theme music, Wildlife; casting, Barbara Barna. 60 MIN.

With: With: Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, Jai Rodriguez.

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