When it comes to reality television, it has never really interested me. I would watch them when nothing else was on, but I never went out of my way to keep attention to the storyline. They’re just something to put on in the background. Reality shows that I did watch and enjoy were The Jersey Shore, Masterchef, and America’s Next Top Model because I find subgenres such as talent contests and (some) docusoaps to be more interesting and fun to watch. Other consumers of television on the other hand are much more invested in the reality TV genre and as Scott Roxborough says, Netflix and other streaming sites are much more invested in reinventing and redeveloping the reality genre as a means to gain more audience members
Nailed It! and Queer Eye are two of Netflix’ growing brand of reality television with both being in the leads for most in demand reality shows. Both of them however show the good and the bad of what reality TV can be. Nailed It! was difficult to watch. It is supposed to be a comedy baking show where the focus is making fun out of average people’s baking creations. What was presented was a loud host and awkward staging, editing, and music throughout with cringe worthy small talk between the judges. Queer Eye on the other hand from what I saw was a celebration of LGBTQ community and a welcoming environment to watch. There was barely and awkward moments between Tom and the Fab Five about them all being gay, and it was an uplifting experience watching Tom find confidence in himself. What is also important about Queer Eye it sends a message that people in the LGBTQ community are skilled, talented workers and can make meaningful connections with people like everyone else. Both of these shows however depart away from most scripted genres because these are labeled “unscripted.” In the reality TV genre, there are multiple subgenres such as makeover, docusoaps, and talent contests. Nailed It! would be classified into a comedy talent show because while there is (poor) humor involved, it is ultimately a contest to see who can make the best dessert. Queer Eye falls in the makeover subgenre because these five men transform a person from five different aspects of their life: clothes, diet, relationships, grooming, and design.
As mentioned previously, Queer Eye is an important show in gaining insight to LGBTQ lives who are unfamiliar such as when Tom asks “who’s wearing the pants?” while talking about gay marriage and a conversation breaks out in the car discussing that the statement Tom just made is a misconception on how gay relationships work. It was done in a friendly upbeat way, and viewers aren’t left uncomfortable by their political or moral views (whatever that may be). The show also is a comment on masculinity in our culture and how it doesn’t have to be a stern, hyper-mascunalized viewpoint all the time. When Tom and Jonathan were talking as they were in the hairdresser, Jonathan keeps telling Tom what a sweet man he is, and that what he needs is more confidence. I think this is important men to hear because in the white cis dominated society they are taught not to show emotion and to have a ridgid exterior or else you’re not seen as masculine. What is also a joy about this show and masculinity is that Tom is extremely accepting of all of the Fab Five’s changes to his lifestyle. We learn he is a soft, kind man underneath a scraggly beard and that no matter how tough a man can appear, he’s still a person inside and still has emotions and desires that fall out of the hyper-mascinulized culture we’re in today. I don’t think that this episode was staged, or at least the emotions weren’t staged because if someone was uncomfortable with the idea of having five gay men change every aspect of your lifestyle, you can’t really pretend you are. I am in doubts however that Tom will stick to this new lifestyle that the Fab Five created because as said in the show, he’s a creature of habit. If he lived and ate how he did before for 15 years, I doubt a few days with these guys’ advice and guidance will have a lasting impact. I think that to will always cherish the experience, and might put more effort to the way he dresses more often, but I think he’ll return to his smoking outside and watching TV version of himself.
Queer Eye also opened up my own eyes about our society as well. I am not shy to admit that I am a liberal person, and I have certain stereotypes of “old white men” especially one’s that look like Tom and I just assume I know what their values and beliefs are. I always just assume from looking at someone whether they would be accepting of hanging around five gay guys or not. For Tom, I thought he was going to have homophobic tendencies and try to keep his distance or hyper-masculinize himself in order to feel more secure, but that didn’t happen. He was so open to all of them and at the end he felt like he grown close to the guys. When Bobby and Jonathan were at the mattress store with Tom I was completely surprised by Tom jumping onto the two on the bed. My own stereotypes about people were questioned just in the pilot episode, and that is significant
Going back to Nailed It! I think that the (surprising) success of the show has to do with most people’s inability to make creations that you see on other shows by “amature.” This reality TV show puts the reality back in baking by demonstrating how average people actually go about making these creations. People can relate to this and might also feel relief when watching because maybe their past baking fails are still better than the ones on the show. How this show differs from other reality cooking shows is that there is less attention on the food itself, and more attention on the people. There is an emphasis on how the contestants are ruining their desert than there is on what they’re doing right. When it comes to judging we know that all of them are going to be awful looking and when the judges laugh, we laugh. I think that this is a problematic way to go about failure and success because these people who are not skilled at baking are challenged with desserts that are way out of their league such as making a Sylvia Weinstock cake themselves. The judges then ridicule them of their mistakes as though it should have been the easiest challenge they could give. It’s unfair and it shows that if you don’t achieve something extraordinary, you’re still subject to criticism. Overall, in regards to Nailed It! I think that this episode is completely disposable. I will forget the contestants, I will forget the host, and I will most likely ever forget I watched it in the first place.