This might be blasphemous to say but it's possible I've found a show as good as, if not -
dare I say it? - better than Queer Eye.
Wild, I know. But We're Here, a new makeover show - of a sort - has some of the best elements of Queer Eye plus a couple more, which make it a standout newcomer to the entertainment race.
First off, it has three RuPaul's Drag Race alumni at the helm, including two of my favourite drag queens of all time; Bob the Drag Queen and Shangela.
And while people won't get a new wardrobe, house or haircut, they do get the same inner
transformation and their communities benefit too.
In We're Here, the queens go to various small towns around America and find locals to turn into drag stars and perform with them for their community. If the premise sounds familiar, it's because it's pretty much an American version of the UK series Drag SOS but with a lot more star power, production value and sheer attitude.
In each episode the queens invade the town, walking the streets in full drag - much to the
shock and disgust of many a small-town hick.
It's hard to see them confronted with the
homophobia of redneck America but it's also important to show it, and also to show the other side of it; the small queer communities within these places that are trying to live their lives as authentically as they can, and the friends, family and allies that support them in doing so.
Each queen is assigned a drag "child" to makeover, and what We're Here does really well is
it doesn't just focus on that person, it focuses on their support system as well.
The show makes a point of having the queens sit down with their drag children's families to unpack their collective trauma, and challenge perceptions and behaviours.
Episode one comes in hot with Erica, a straight woman who used to be a homophobe, to the point where, when her daughter Hailey came out as bisexual, her beliefs and resulting
actions destroyed their relationship.
Through Hailey, you get to see the profound effect an unsupportive family can have on a
young queer person, and you also get to follow Erica unpacking her guilt and stumbling
through a journey of allyship toward forgiveness.
And, fittingly, you aren't promised reconciliation because this isn't a Lifetime movie; these are real people with real trauma and it doesn't go away in a few days just because a famous drag queen turns up with a camera crew.
Purely by existing, drag challenges homophobia, sexism, toxic masculinity and small poppy syndrome all at once and that's powerful to see happening in real-world environments. While there will always be people whose minds you cannot change, it is encouraging to see people be challenged and learn to change the way they think and react as a result.
There's nothing quite like a reluctant smile at a drag queen because you can see that they
feel the energy and the freedom and that it's infectious. Even if they don't come all the way around, it's still important to acknowledge how much of a journey that change is as well; I'm not saying let's give credit to people for doing the bare minimum, I'm just saying it is necessary to recognise that some people have decades and even centuries' of unlearning to do.
The end of the season even brings a surprising look at the personal struggles of the show's star queens after Covid-19 got in the way of production. Rather than hold back the season, the show went on as it must and learning more about these people - if you didn't already know - after seeing them perform throughout the season is an important insight into the work they're doing now.
Most importantly though, after all the emotional labour, We're Here also offers what drag queens do best: Sickening looks and gag-worthy performances - plus some fun little moments of educating the straights in drag/queer culture.
As important as it is to see the hard stuff, it's equally important to see the moments of
unadulterated joy and the freedom people experience performing in drag - the kind of
freedom you can only experience when you feel safe and accepted and yourself.
In all of the drag lessons, the key ingredient in any show is confidence and attitude, and to see people without those things suddenly gain it by putting on a wig and swinging their hips in a way they've never dared to do before is a beautiful thing