The Empty Consumerism of China’s ‘Queer Eye’ Clone

What happens when you take the “queer” out of “Queer Eye”?

“You Are So Beautiful” cast members use a special adhesive tape on a subject’s face to make it appear more narrow. From @你怎么这么好看官微 on Weibo

The core concept of Mango TV’s “You Are So Beautiful,” which premiered on the popular streaming network late last year, is simple. Each week, five fabulous experts band together to give glam makeovers to a revolving door of sartorially challenged sad sacks. They update their clients’ wardrobes and hairstyles, offer them hip lifestyle tips, and redecorate their apartments with chic new furniture. Then they stage a big reveal, and everyone gets together to talk, cry, and hug it all out.

If all this sounds familiar, that’s because it should. Indeed, when I first heard about the show, my initial reaction was: “They’re making a Chinese ‘Queer Eye’?”

I remember watching the original “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” which ran on American TV from 2003 to 2007, while in college and being shocked at the idea of a reality show starring sexual minorities. Far fewer eyebrows were raised in 2018, when Netflix successfully rebooted the show as “Queer Eye” with a new cast of experts, a more diverse roster of clients, and a more millennial-friendly look. But given the challenges faced by the LGBT community on the Chinese mainland, I never thought it would get an adaptation here.

Turns out, I was right. I tuned into “You Are So Beautiful” (hereafter referred to as YASB) with high hopes. Four episodes in, I switched it off, feeling both disappointed and provoked. It wasn’t just that the show’s producers had ripped off “Queer Eye,” or even that they had done so while simultaneously scrubbing it of all traces of outward LGBT representation — none of the show’s experts are openly gay — but that YASB had scrapped the fundamentally humanist celebration of diversity in “Queer Eye” for a crude paean to consumerism and upper middle-class cultural privilege. Continue to read the full article here.

A GIF showing YASB clients before and after their makeovers. From @你怎么这么好看官微 on Weibo


 – This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.