With their newly released second season, Queer Eye is putting fashion reality TV back on the map. If you haven’t binge watched Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye, do it. Now. Seriously, stop reading and at least watch the first season’s fourth episode, ‘To Gay or Not Too Gay’, then come back and finish reading this article (after grabbing some tissues).
For those of you that have not yet experienced the fabulousness of the newly rebooted Queer Eye, you really need to give it a shot. The Guardian went so far to say that the new Queer Eye is “definitely the best TV show to premiere so far this year and one of the most important TV shows for a long, long time.”
Yes, Jonathan, yes I can!
But not everyone is singing Queer Eye’s praises. Several reviews Netflix’s adaptation have revisited some of the major issues with the 2000s Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, specifically calling out the obvious use product placement, a reoccurring criticism of the original and an early critique to the reboot. But how much substance is there to this perspective? Is it just a nit-pick aimed at stirring controversy with this darling series? I’ll let Jonathan answer this last one:
Product placement, or embedded marketing, has been around probably as long as marketing, but really became a recognized marketing approach with the introduction of film. Television emerged as a new media outlet primarily bankrolled by many consumer product companies and brands. Ever wonder where the term ‘soap opera’ came from? That’s right, early product placement!
Ok, so there is definitely some product placement going on here with Queer Eye. But what actually is the problem with product placement? Product placement becomes negative in two major ways: when it is so blatant that it is disruptive to storytelling and when honesty comes into question regarding the placement. Is Jonathan really a huge fan of Herbivore Rose Hibiscus Hydrating Face Mist or is he just saying that because they pay those bills?
But there is also an opportunity that emerges with product placement in a show like Queer Eye. The show clearly states its mission in comparison to the 2000s version: “the original show was fighting for tolerance. Our fight it for acceptance”. With consumer products aligning their brand with a mission like this, they are not only getting exposure to a target market, they are also expressing value alignment. Product placement in Queer Eye gives brands the opportunity to show their support for the LGBTQ communities in a unique way, while financially supporting this shows approach for dialogue during divisive times and pursuit of mutual understanding, acceptance and community. While of course bringing some fab makeover entertainment simultaneous! So, can we ease up on the product placement critiques just a bit?