COMMENT

Queer Eye fans are celebrating the return of their favourite reality show, but with all that's going on right now, is the timing just way too far off the mark?

All through lockdown, I kept thinking what a perfect time it was for a new season of Queer Eye to take our minds off Covid and make us believe in something again.

When it finally did return to Netflix it was too late for lockdown and too late to fix the world; it hit screens on Friday, as the Black Lives Matter movement was enveloping the globe.

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It felt trivial, like we shouldn't be wasting time on a feel-good reality show and even if we did, wouldn't it just feel superficial and out of touch?

Before its release, star Jonathan Van Ness took to Instagram to assure us that Queer Eye was never intended to be a "cure" for the situation, writing: "I hope that our show doesn't serve as a distraction from the fight but rather a tool that can be used to rest, engage in self-care… as we continue to protest and demand an anti-racist America… I hope Queer Eye can give you a few moments of love and laughter along the way."

Thankfully, he was right, and it did.

Watching these stories through the lens of Covid-19 and Black Lives Matter, they feel more poignant, particularly as a whole lot of black "heroes" - as the show calls its makeover subjects - struggle to find peace, security, success and confidence and come to realise they are worthy.

This season also has some strong activism stories, including a young woman fighting against climate change. Seeing how much pressure 18-year-old Abby puts on herself, how much she sacrifices and how consistently anxious she is, really gives you a new appreciation for young Black Lives Matter activists. If this hero is fighting for something that could happen 70 years from now, imagine the toll it takes fighting for something that's happening right now - and has been for centuries.

But I digress. Abby had her own very important arc in which she had to overcome the sexism that taught her presenting as more feminine would mean she wouldn't be taken as seriously.

Style expert Tan France told her: "If you don't have a strong sense of self, you're not prepared for this" - and if that isn't the life lesson we all needed for 2020, I don't know what is.

This season also has a huge focus on business success, with many heroes struggling to either get things up and running or keep them going - from a mobile dog groomer to the owner of a 90s hip hop inspired gym.

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And within all of this season's stories is one common lesson which comes down to that Eleanor Brown quote; "You cannot serve from an empty vessel".

All of this season's heroes - and many from previous seasons - felt so dedicated and so attached to a cause, project or a business that they focused all their energy and resources on it and saved none for themselves.

While on the surface, Queer Eye may seem trivial and irrelevant, at its core, it's our reminder not to make that same mistake.

It remains a lesson in love, spirituality and truth and with activism, feminism, queer acceptance, self-worth and sheer black joy in one easy-to-watch show, it's a fountain from which to fill our cups, so we can continue the fight.

Whether that's the greater fight for black lives and against racial injustice, the fight to save the planet from ourselves, the fight for acceptance, the fight to recover post-Covid or just the daily fight to get through the day in times like this, it's all the same.

As the rest of that Eleanor Brown quote goes: "When you take time replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow".

Queer Eye, season five, streaming now on Netflix