Racial Identity and Multiculturalism on Netflix

When it comes to producing and creating shows that revolve around a multicultural and racial topic or identity, I haven’t seen any other network or creative site that matches Netflix. We will be focusing on three shows: Luke Cage, On My Block, and Dear White People to demonstrate the forwards movements that Netflix makes to provide content and perspectives from people outside the white gaze.

Looking at the narrative worlds of these shows, it becomes apparent that they are going to involve the tackling of the “racial empathy gap” as Nico Lang points out. Luke Cage for example does not have many white characters, or white people in general in the show. This forms the narrative world as belonging to how African-Americans live in the present day. We learn that Cage was put in prison for something he didn’t do because of his profiling. We see that he is struggling to support himself even though he works hard and goes to multiple jobs. We also see the flip side of class beaus Cottonmouth is a very rich and influential man in some kind of mafia. When looking at On the Block and how their narrative worlds are formed, we see from the beginning that this neighborhood is lower class, and it’s dangerous as well when we hear the gunshots at the party. This is a norm for these children however because instead of running in fear they get excited when they know what kind of gun fired. It again draws away from the white gaze, as neighborhoods such as these are not usually represented on network television. Moving on towards Dear White People and this one differs from the other two as the main characters are surrounded by white people, but the perspective is focused on the blacks. This makes the narrative world feel as though the kids on the campus are trapped or always being on guard when they are on campus because they are surrounded by white people who do not understand the world that they live in every day.

When it comes to if these shows show racial stereotypes, I would say yes and no. For Luke Cage we get the scene of the men talking about sports in the barber shop, which is a stereotype of black men, however these kinds of barber shops do actually exist. I think that this scene also shows the relationships of the people in the community and the divide between the older generation and the younger. For On My Block, Ruby Martinez’s family was the most stereotyped because of the grandmother being a very devout Catholic, as well as Ruby shouting “Ay Dios mio!” when he realizes he is in a dress outside. The Latino gang is also highly stereotyped by riding in lowriders as well as wearing wife-beater tank tops all the time. For Dear White People I didn’t notice so many stereotypes of being African-American as much as I noticed stereotypes about these kids being outspoken college students, which is common in every college. The point of this show was to draw attention to the black stereotypes that white people assume because these stereotypes are false, however instead of showing these stereotypes visibly, the characters call them out on their own.

One stereotype that was noticeable, and to me problematic to some degree comes from Luke Cage. He is a quiet man who works hard, and takes pride in his work no matter what he does. However, I found this to be similar to the quiet black man stereotype that we see in TV and films such as servants, or janitors. I realize that these are the only jobs he can get because he was incarcerated and wants to lay low because of his powers, but this stereotype just kept staring at me in the face despite him being the main character and the “superhero” of the show. Another thing that is present in the show is isn’t necessarily a stereotype, but rather a comment on our society today where black men are subject to violence at a high rate, however we have a Cage being a black man that is “bulletproof.” This makes him impenetrable from the violence and death that surrounds him and his fellow black men every day and the irony of that is astounding.

For On My Block I noticed that Jamal doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotypes of being an African-American man either. Stereotypically, black men should be strong and tough, like Jamal’s father. He should have a love for sports and not show any weakness. Jamal is a nervous, skinny, goofy kid that doesn’t fit his father’s expectations. I think this is a positive way to show this character though because it allows black men and boys to show emotion and to be who they actually want to be rather than what society expects them to be. I think that can go with the other boys in the show such as Cesar because he makes it clear at the end of the first episode that he doesn’t want to be a part of his family’s gang, but he is struggling to separate himself from what his family expects him to do, not only because it will disappoint them, but he could also be hurt if he does. This highlights the traps that these low-income neighborhood kids can be stuck in just because they live there.

To change the minds of anyone based on one show is difficult to do, so I don’t think any of these shows, try as they might, will transform a bigoted person. A bigoted person would also probably not go anywhere near a show titled Dear White People if they know that their prejudices and cruel judgements are going to be called out as wrong. As for most people who just need to be properly educated about discrimination that thrives in this country, I think that all of these shows have the ability to open up their minds, and perhaps make people more open and welcome to others different from them.

When looking at which of these shows is the most appealing to the largest audience it would have to be Luke Cage because of the great appeal for the superhero genre, and the fact that it fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is another reason that it became as popular as it did. It also doesn’t have such a brash title as Dear White People does and it’s more appealing than On My Block because more people can sympathize with Cage’s situation more than they can living in a low-income neighborhood where violence and gangs are rampant. However, I personally think I sympathized with On My Block though because of the kid’s drama between themselves, and the awkwardness of growing up and growing different from your friends. I think that Dear White People was the most informative however because I am a white person, and the show was basically telling me personally how and how I should not interact with people of color. It also allowed me to see the daily struggles that POC go through every day with ignorant and sometimes racist people.

Looking through an industrial perspective, it is difficult for minorities to get stories and shows like these ones out into the public because of the limited resources and doors that are open for them. Julien Simien said in his podcast that he had to work a day job on the side of just trying to get money to get his movie off the ground. Even then he explained all the hoops he had to jump through and how patient he had to be just to finally get a buyer for his show. He also has to deal with the backlash once the movie and show was released. People got offended by having their pregudices called out, and didn’t belive that “blackface parties” actually happen, which only proves Simien’s point in that the show is to open people’s eyes to the realities that black people face every day.

Blog Post 9

Racial identity and multiculturalism inform these TV shows because while they are made to entertain an audience, they are also made to make a statement about real injustices in the world.  These are also the reasons that they are structured the way they are and also have the characters act the way they do.  Because I have only seen the first episode these shows I am not fully sure if they will challenge stereotypes and typical representations.  For example in Dear White People they have the main character hook up with a white character and when they go to a meeting a lot of the other black characters find the white guy to be out of the norm.  They had one of the other black characters confront the white character and talk to him and the white guy ends up leaving the movie.  However, after he leaves the movie the original character who made him leave then apologies to the girl.  In On My Block one of the Hispanic characters joins a gang because that is what everyone in his family has done and to me this seems more of a stereotypical norm that the show is not breaking.   However, in the end of the first episode the three other main characters talk about how they need to help him get out the gang and this seems to me like they will continue on to try and break stereotypes in this show.  I also believe that Netflix is falling into some stereotypes but that the reason they do this is to eventually dismantle the stereotypes in their show.  For example the reason they have a character join a gang in On My Block and look stereotypical is so that later on they can show he is actually a good person being forced into this life and that he doesn’t even want to be there just like people in real life.  I also do not believe that watching these shows would help to change the minds or worldview of anything or anyone because I believe that when people are watching TV shows they want to be entertained and if they wanted to hear facts they would watch a documentary.  No ones mind or worldview will change when they watch a TV show because the people who watch these shows watch them to help confirm their worldview and the people that don’t watch them, don’t watch them because they don’t want to be taught a lesson or hear people complain about inequality when they just want to be entertained.

Unfortunately for me I was unable to connect to any of the characters because they are all in a very different situation than me and what happens to them does not happen to me.  Almost all of the characters are from a different ethnic background than me, because I am a white male and most of the characters shown were of color or female.  So this unfortunately makes a lot of their everyday problems not very relevant to me since I do not go through what they have to but also I am not racist towards people of different color than me so their concerns were not super relevant to me.  From an industrial standpoint the difficulties that are faced when trying to communicate their stories through mass media are many.  They have to face people trying to not be able to even tell their stories and then they also have a lot of people who will not even listen when their stories are out.  Another problem they face are people telling them to stop complaining or enjoy that it is better than it was but that is still a problem because things are still not perfect.

Blog Post 8

Queer Eye and Nailed It! both conform to earlier examples of their genre, Reality TV.  Queer Eye is very similar to most reality shows because of how they are structured and how the cast acts.  With this show it is structured like most others where they show the cast in action and then they have cut scenes where one or two characters will talk to the camera alone about the scene that is shown.  The cast they have is also very similar to most other reality shows I have seen where they have a lot of characters and one of them is a little over the top while the rest are an interesting group.  This reminds me a lot of the show Duck Dynasty because even though they are very different people the cast reminds me a lot of each other in the way that they act and how they are when on camera.  In Nailed It! this show also conforms to earlier examples of the genre because in almost all of the baking shows they are structured the same way.  Most cooking shows especially like Nailed It! are structured with the judges who give the challenge then sit together and comment on how the cooks are doing.  These cooks are also the same as others because they are given their challenge and then put on a clock to complete it.  This is almost the same as every other cooking reality show because they are all set up the same way with just different challenges and judges.  The sub genre I find most appealing would have to be talent contests.  I really dont even like reality shows at all but if I had to pick then it would be talent contests because it is interesting to see unique talents that people work really hard to be great at.  Queer Eye would fall into the sub category of makeover programs and Nailed It! would fall into the category of “lighthearted baking competition.

Queer Eye to me doesn’t say that the idea of maleness and masculinity are changing but it tells me that people are more accepting of others.  I think masculinity is still the same and I don’t believe that the show or the Fab Five are masculine.  This show also does a good job of showing cultural differences between the shows Fab Five and the “test subject”.  This is because the Fab Five is well dressed more proper and preppy and also gay, while the subject is older, dirtier, and not at all like them.  Some of the “lessons” that they teach him are to be more confident in himself and that it is not bad to take care of yourself to make you feel better.  I also do think that they and their lessons will have a lasting impact on his lifestyle choices because he seemed much happier at the end of the episode than the beginning.  I think with how happy he was that he will continue to listen to them for a long time.

I attribute the success of the show Nailed It! to the fact that they had decent hosts and also how they have “regular people” and not famous chefs or great chefs trying to prepare the meal.  I think this resonates with people because they could see themselves competing in the show and making the same mistakes or they even think they could do better which is why they like to watch it.  It differs from other shows for these reasons because most of the shows have people who are at least decent chefs trying to prepare a meal not amateurs trying to compete in these competitions.  I think this show sends a positive message about personal achievement and/or failure because it shows how people can fail and it is still OK.  I also would not call this show “disposable” because I think it was a good pilot episode and will definitely retain its value and continue to resonate with a diverse audience over time.

Anyone Can be a TV Star

Reality TV. You either love it and can’t get enough of it, or you hate it and will never watch it. I personally don’t mind it; however, I am picky with which shows I will watch. For example, I hate the Bachelor. Even though it’s “reality TV” it’s all fake and scripted, which most of them are, but the Bachelor is just too much. I love House Hunters, 100% Hotter, The Challenge, The Real World, Say Yes to the Dress, etc. Say Yes to the Dress is probably one of my favorite because I love all things wedding. The Atlanta show is more scripted than the New York one, but it’s charming and delightful. The New York one seems more real because of the interviews they do with the consultants. They’ll be holding five dresses in their hands in the middle of the walk way with other consultants rushing behind them talking to the producer about how the appointment is going. I think a lot of people don’t like reality TV because it is so fake even though it’s trying to portray as authentic television. Others love it because of it’s trashiness and craziness. It’s usually classified as a ‘guilty pleasure.”

I watched the first episode of Nailed It! and Queer EYE. I didn’t know what these shows were, but I enjoyed them. I enjoyed Nailed It! a little bit better than Queer Eye because it was a baking show with a twist. I don’t usually like plain baking shows because I find them a bit boring, but it was interesting how they took normal people and made them compete by trying to recreate cake masterpieces. It was more relatabale because I know I wouldn’t have done any better than those people at creating that blue wedding cake. I also like the competition aspect of it. It makes it more exciting and suspenseful. Queer Eye was good because it was about renovations and changing spaces into a better version of themselves, but I found it to be boring. It was really easy for me to get distracted while watching it. It’s something that I would only put on as background noise  while doing something else. It’s definitely in a different sub-genre of reality TV then Nailed It! is. Baking reality shows are there own little genre because there are so many of them, but the same could be said about Queer Eye. There’s even a whole network dedicated towards house improvements.

I think the show Queer Eye is another stepping stone. Society has certain ideas of what each gender should and shouldn’t be doing and showing the fabulous five take on a more feminine task will hopefully help break those ideologies. These five men in the first episode of season one meet a man named Tom who needs a makeover. The fabulous five work with him to “dust off the ghosts of relationships past” and to fix his house up. They also help boost his self esteem by  complimenting him, listening to him, helping him find what does and does not work for him, telling him to stop calling himself ugly, etc. I’m not sure if Tom will stick to his new “life” because I’ve seen a lot of shows where a person gets help and gets a makeover and plays along in front of the cameras, but a few months later are back to their old selves, but still use SOME tips they were given.

Nailed It! was definitely a much better show in my opinion. It does give off the same vibes of other baking shows, but instead of taking professional bakers who own their own bakeries they have everyday people baking and competing against each other. Another unique aspect of this show is that they don’t have any creative freedom. They are asked to recreate a bakery masterpiece to the best of their abilities, which honestly doesn’t turn out to be amazing, but I don’t judge because I couldn’t do any better. I think by having normal people on this show makes it more relatable and fun to watch. I think this show is either a hit or miss. I can see how some people would find it super boring and would hate it, but I can also see how people could be addicted to it.

Netflix Adopting Reality TV

Netflix is known for its great original content that has encaptivated viewers for years, but are they missing a whole audience that could change the game for them? People have loved reality shows for years. While watching Nailed It, we can see that this largely reflects how reality shows were and still are. In regards to whether these reality tv shows can be categorized into sub-genres is a little unlikely due to how popular they are, or the popularity they lack. If they did create these sub-genres I think reality tv as a whole would need a much larger audience for this to be successful. Nailed it, reminds me of shows that I used to watch where the characters lives on the show are constantly being exploited and then camera time is given to each character individually for them to discuss how they feel about the competition and themselves on the particular show. As Roxborough mentions his in article reality TV has been relatively prominent in the past. All the way from 1997 with the start of Survivor from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to where we are today. Although these shows have been airing The Voice from 2010 is the only show that has had consistent high ratings and a large fan base. The show Queer Eye,  follows people from different cities with very different beliefs and interviews them in hopes of discussing highly debated issues, including being gay in the first episode. Television and films have historically been full masculinity due to preconceived gender roles. This reality TV show dives deep into peoples lives to show that regardless of gender preference, people are generally very similar. Through Queer Eye we can see that people come from all walks of life and grow up in very different lifestyles culturally speaking. These sorts of niche communities can have certain connotations for people they disagree with or don’t live a similar life too. In boosting Tom’s self-esteem, they simply explain that people go through the same things he does on a daily basis and that he shouldn’t be scared about things that he is doing normally. It’s hard to say whether or not the things that Tom was told are going to impact him throughout his life but I believe that he goes and re watches his episodes, he will understand and make the proper adjustments to better his life. People are so interested in reality TV shows due to the unscripted nature of them. Although many of them are not unscripted it creates this on-the-fly “acting” that makes it enjoyable for viewers because it makes it easier for them to put themselves in the characters shoes. Creating a reality TV show on platforms such as Netflix or Amazon make it difficult for original producers to do what they want to do because of censorship and signing over rights to the aforementioned platforms. A more traditional route as Roxborough explains “often when you do an original deal, you not only retain rights to the original but also can take sales rights for the local news version outside the territory”(Roxborough, 3) As you can see there are benefits to not adapting to certain platforms but you run the risk of having your show not be as successful as it could have been. All in all, I can’t say reality tv has peaked my interest but there are many people out there that absolutely love it.

Positive Reality TV? Netflix Delivers.

When I hear reality TV my mind usually goes straight to shows like Survivor, The Amazing Race, and Real World.  But the genre of reality television has become so much more than shows like these.  Today reality TV covers more interests than I have room to list, utilizing a wide variety of formats.  While the early days of reality TV were solely dedicated to entertainment it quickly spread to entertainment with benefits (who wouldn’t want to win a million dollars on Survivor) and then to educational entertainment as demonstrated on The Food Network.  Like most television today, reality TV has subgenres spanning from educational to docusoaps.  With their popularity and evident staying power, Netflix has decided to join the reality TV realm.  Two of Netflix ‘s reality series finding early success are Nailed It and Queer Eye.  Both are patterned after earlier successful models from reality TV.  But, that isn’t to say that there aren’t original aspects to each show.

Nailed It is making its mark with Netflix viewers.  Good humor (appropriate for family viewing) and culinary expertise join together to challenge somewhat unrealistic home  bakers in three good-natured competitions each episode.  This would just be another cooking competition show if it weren’t for the comedic voice of Nicole Byer.  Together with head judge Jacques Torres, Byer keeps guest judges, contestants, and even the production crew in high spirits throughout each episode.  Departing from other cooking competition shows Nicole and the judges always find something positive in each contestants piece.  With the purposeful levity, this lessens the sting of each loss.  While each episode makes it clear that the bakers likely won’t ever be experts you get the idea that they leave the show feeling good about their effort and that their effort is the achievement or success they were looking for.  Nailed It has found a way to bring the right mix of humor and competition to leave the audience with a sense of positivity from each baker taking a chance, and this is something that is often lacking in American television.

As a reboot of the similarly named series from Bravo, Queer Eye debuted to an audience with high expectations; and it delivered.  While it is categorized as “lifestyle television” I feel like Queer Eye provides more for it’s viewing audience.  With the level of divisiveness in the United States today highlighting our common core humanity is of utmost importance.  Queer Eye also challenges stereotypes and our preconceived ideas about masculinity.  While conforming to the formats of shows like Fixer Upper there is a deeper meaning in Queer Eye.  “The original show was fighting for tolerance, our fight is for acceptance,” -Tan.  “My goal is to find out how we’re similar as opposed to how different we are,” – Antoni.  “We all got to come together in a way where we can understand each other,” -Karamo.  For me, these three statements say it all.  When challenging peoples views, opinions, outlooks, and even fear it is far easier to sit on your high horse, particularly when you are a part of the oppressed group.  The person or group who takes the first step towards understanding allows their vulnerability to show.  And I believe that is what these Fab Five are doing.  By taking the show from New York to Georgia they are bringing their mission to seek acceptance straight to the heart of what most would consider the good ole boys club.  This challenges the audience to not only reevaluate how they see gay men but also how they see and have stereotyped straight southern men.  It was beautiful to watch Tom and his friends interact with the Fab Five.  When I saw the Fab Five walk into the restaurant to meet Tom as he had breakfast with the Romeo’s I held my breath wondering how all of the older southerners would react to a group of proud gay men.  Their reactions were priceless in the best possible way.  It certainly challenged my view of how the southern man’s man acts.  Both the Fab Five and Tom seemed very open to one another.  Each of the Fab Five seemed to take a deeper interest in understanding why Tom is the way he is so that they could try to implement changes in his life that could address the core of his fears and doubts.  They celebrate how strong a man needs to be in order to address the pain in his life.  By offering the audience a more positive view of masculinity, one that is accepted by both gay and straight men, Queer Eye is helping to demonstrate that we are all more similar than we think.  Because the Fab Five go deeper than the surface they have laid a foundation from which Tom can continue to grow and improve as a person, if that is really what he wants.

For me shows like Nailed It and Queer Eye tell me that Netflix is finding ways to bring quality television to their service while simultaneously growing their audience base and staying relevant in the television world.

The Reality of Reality on Netflix

In the past, I have watched few reality television shows, but most memorably, was America’s Next Top Model. The show was about beautiful women competing to become a model.  I remember it being a bit trashy, but still a guilty pleasure to watch.  The other reality show I watched was Extreme Home Makeover, which as a kid I loved, just to see the crazy rooms that the kids would get once their house got a makeover. Netflix’s Queer Eye  conforms to both America’s Next Top Model and Extreme Home Makeover by fixing up people’s homes and giving them a new physical makeover.  However, Queer Eye focuses on what seems to be a more charitable cause, like Extreme Home Makeover does, while America’s Next Top Model is more of a fight to be the best model.  In America’s Next Top Model, there is a lot more drama that Queer Eye.  Queer Eye has some drama, but its not mean.  It is very emotional and focuses on bettering the life of someone, not just getting into the cut-throat fashion world.

Personally, I think that the makeover subgenera of reality television is most appealing because it has a story like dating programs, but is less trashy.  I think the audience can live vicariously through the people on the show and maybe learn something new, maybe about fashion or cooking, like in Queer Eye. Conversely, the dating programs seem to be just drama for drama’s sake.  I think that all subgenera of reality television give are emotional in one way or another and the audience is able to be attached to their favorite people, which is why they keep watching more. If the audience is curious about what happens to their favorite personality as the show progresses, they will keep watching.

Queer Eye challenges attitudes on masculinity and maleness by showing that participating in things like cooking and fashion (which arguably, could be traditionally considered a woman’s area of expertise) can really improve a straight male’s life.  I think it was really fun to watch the Fabulous 5 helping others through their areas of expertise, and even thought they are all gay, it was still great to see men doing things that may still be atypical in society.  I’d like to predict that through these kinds of shows, featuring individuals of different sexual orientations, will influence the attitudes of audience members watching the show to be more accepting and open to changing their ideas of masculinity.

I think Nailed It! can credit its success to the popularity of memes.  There are tons of “Nailed It!” memes on the internet and they are hilarious.  Watching average people attempt to make decadent food masterpieces is comical because of how terrible the contestants made their projects.  I think the show sends a positive message about personal failure- to keep a good humor about it. I don’t think the show is meant to be hurtful to the contestants, but have a good laugh and win prizes.

You can too fix ugly…

Really, when you think about the transition Netflix is making, going from just simple movies, then to entire series written and produced by themselves, all the way to the airing of reality programming, it all makes sense. What does Netflix want to do and what have they been doing successfully for the last decade? Being a popular alternative to cable TV. Cable tv seems to be dying at a rapid pace and the more these streaming apps like Netflix open their horizon of genres, the more people they will take from the large TV giants.

I personally enjoy reality TV shows. Especially cooking shows where they put chefs against each other with fun setbacks that make the show more interesting. One of my favorite shows is Chopped. In this show, they put four chefs against each other where they have a short amount of time to cook a meal for a guest panel of chefs using ingredients that are usually bizarre, gross, or ingredients that just simple should not be mixed together. It allows me to learn tips with cooking, but also have the opportunity to see some chefs compete at a higher level than just a traditional cookoff.

Nailed It was exactly the same experience I have when I am watching Chopped but there was more of a sense of humor attached to it. I enjoyed watching the chefs struggle to replicate the professionally designed cakes. These poor chefs tried their best and it looked awful but I truly enjoyed my time watching the show. Queer Eye was not as bad as I thought it would be. I simply cannot get into these makeover shows where they take a normal guy and get him all dressed up and everything but I will be honest, I found myself enjoying this show more than most makeover shows. These shows are usually something my girlfriend enjoys but I actually thought it was funny and cute. I found myself connecting with Tom when they were cleaning him up and it made me smile from ear to ear when he began blushing and his confidence began to rise.

It is easy to create genres with these reality TV shows. There seems to be a clear diving line with all reality shows that can put each one into a specific genre. There are dating programs, docusoaps, makeover programs, talent contests, cooking game shows and many more different types of genres. There are a lot of different makeover shows on the market present day and Queer Eye fits right into those just like Nailed It fits into those cooking game shows.

When I began watching Queer Eye, I didn’t know what to expect when they bring five gay men into a small country town in Georgia. There was even a part in the episode where Tom asked one of the gentleman who was the husband and who was the wife in his marriage and even though it offended them, Tom simply did not know better. This gave Bobby the opportunity to explain to Tom the aspects of a gay relationship that he was not familiar with and it also educated the viewers, myself included. This was something I did not expect when I began watching but it was a touching part of the episode. Of course, parts of the show are staged. Like when Toms ex-wife shows up to the car show, and when they take him from his friends in the beginning of the episode, but it’s just part of those reality shows. It may seem corny but it never seems to bother me too much.

As far as the amount of information retained from Nailed It, I find that show to be helpful as well. When the contestants were baking, they made many mistakes that I could imagine happen with bakers all the time. Like when one of the bakers put the butter cream on before the cake was cooled and so the cream began melting and created a mess. This is something that can be absorbed by anyone who cooks.

In the end, I found that there was information in both shows that can be deemed as valuable, and the shows in general not only gave tips on baking, personal hygiene, and other skills; they also taught lessons about character and that is something that I found to be most important.


Netflix and its Growing Influence on Reality TV

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 ShoreMasterchef, 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.

The Well Established World of Reality TV

by Nick Christiansen

Reality TV is a genre that seems like it will be around forever. There is a ton you can do with the genre, and virtually any demographic is reachable depending on the specific reality show. The shows we had to watch for this blog posting were Nailed It! and Queer Eye. These shows mostly appeal to a gay and female demographic with their subject matter and they do a great job at entertaining and providing to that crowd. I know this partially because my sister would watch baking shows in high school and I could tell that she would love Nailed It! Personally, my favorite type of reality show is something like Myth Busters or Doomsday Preppers where they experiment and build fun things. I love these shows because I love to tinker with things and you usually learn a lot along the way too. Watching these kinds of shows growing up also inspired me to do things like build artificial intelligent drones that will land me an awesome job soon.

I would say that Nailed It! conforms very heavily to the well established sub-genre of baking/cooking contest. You have a panel of judges with varying backgrounds, an energetic host, and contestants who are given a short amount of time to produce a result. The judges then judge the food based on appearance and taste before declaring a winner. Now I don’t think there really is any other way of designing a cooking show, so this framework doesn’t bother me at all. The only things that vary in these shows are what they bake. Nailed It! finds it’s niche in the sub-genre by making contestants recreate very elaborate baked items and I think that is enough to differentiate it from other shows in the genre. The show was very easy to watch and captivating because you can see mistakes happening in real time and you can see what kind of character a person has by how they bake. Would I ever watch TV like this in my own time? Absolutely not. I find it to be a waste of time and if I had to watch something I would rather watch a complicated show about crime or history for example. Does that mean I dislike it? No, shows like this are soft and easy to digest and would probably be a safe bet to put on while I’m hanging out with my girlfriend so she can enjoy the program and I can crack jokes at it. The show serves it’s purpose and brings a lot of people in to watch a fun and innocent little contests, so I respect that.

Cooking shows I’ve been known to get excited about are Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. Anthony Bourdain’s show was both a travel and a cooking show. He would travel to exotic locations to talk about the culture of the area, then go to highly regarded or just simply good restaurants that reflect what people like to eat in the area. Being a highly regarded chef, he would break down the food for the viewer and tell you what elements of the dish were special. This show just felt rich and immersive with Anthony’s relatable perspective and excellent eye for detail, I’ll really miss the guy. Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares was a great show because it was so intense. Gordon would go to failing restaurants to save them from closing down. This means he would have to identify the problems and then fix them. Most often these problems would be in the staff and their cooking, so Gordon would tell these oblivious underachievers cold hard truths about how much they sucked at their jobs and what they would need to do to be better. This resulted in a lot of drama, but as you’ll learn, Gordon is never wrong about what he says, and his harsh words are pretty much always deserved. He is a man with zero fear and zero tolerance for bullshit. And at the end of the day, Gordon Ramsey probably saved dozens upon dozens of real restaurants form closing down. This was a cooking show with purpose and impact.

Queer Eye is a show that delivers a lot more than I thought it would. I expected to see some gay guys giving someone a makeover, but the show covered the story of a gay black man in the south and his struggles, it went over the story of a small town and how it’s building a community center, and it tells the story of a very loving and spiritual woman who loves her son regardless of him being gay and her being Christian. I also respected the show pretty much right off of the bat when the men mentioned how they still love spirituality and Christianity regardless of how misunderstanding church groups can be. These guys exhibit their positive ideals and character by building the community center for a church (which they made look great) and by being supportive to the gay son of the woman they were giving a makeover. This show is both very gay and very wholesome, it isn’t a show I would watch in my free time, but I can see how gay men would probably love it, and for good reason. It doesn’t match any reality TV formula or sub-genre I’ve ever seen, and it felt very refreshing.