We all saw this coming.
Since the Bravo network began airing “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” the quirky reality TV show where five gay men teach hygienic habits, dress code and decorating techniques to a volunteering heterosexual, numerous spin-offs and spoofs have spawned from the ever-growing cultural phenomenon. Last Monday, Comedy Central aired the first of its three-part series, “Straight Plan for the Gay Man,” which directly turns the tables to stick a gay man in a straight man’s shoes.
“Walking in these high heels all my life, my back began to hurt, and I wanted to see what it was like to walk in a pair of army boots for a day,” said Jonathan Schneider, the upscale fashion salesman who was made over in the first episode. Schneider’s mission: “to be as un-fabulous as possible.”
One of the major differences between “Queer Eye” and “Straight Plan” is that on the latter, after the makeover is complete the straight men test the results of their work.
Schneider and the cast recently chatted with The Hatchet about “Straight Plan for the Gay Man.”
“We took elements from another show on the BBC called ”Faking It’ where we put the guys on “Man Missions” and get them undercover to pass them off as straight,” said Billy Merritt, the designated “Appearance Guy.” “So it’s a mixture of that show and just a straight rip-off of “Queer Eye.”
After his makeover, Schneider, who said he always wanted to understand the life of a blue-collar worker, competed against two of the straight men to see who could get hired at a meat factory. But before this test, the straight men (dubbed the Flab 4) had to teach Schneider how to, “handle his meat.” Ultimately, Schneider was able to fool the factory’s management into thinking he was “a straight meatpacker.”
In future episodes, the Flab 4 will attempt to morph a yoga instructor into a basketball player and will send a hip-hop singer/dancer on a night of speed dating to test his ability to pick up women. The episodes will air on Comedy Central on the first two Mondays in March at 10 p.m.
Schneider said he thinks people who enjoy “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” will definitely like this show.
“When you already know how something works, you can relate to it immediately. I think people are going to take to it very quickly, get the jokes right off the bat and be able to laugh at it.”
“One thing we definitely wanted to parody (in ”Queer Eye’) was the product placement. Because it’s just obnoxiously over the top, and I think we definitely parodied that,” said Rob Riggle, the “Culture Guy.”
Although the show mocks some aspects of “Queer Eye,” it also pokes fun at male stereotypes.
“What makes a good parody work is that we’re also poking fun at ourselves, not just the show,” said Merritt.
In each episode, the Flab 4 will share secrets of straight male life with viewers and their makeover victim – sparse decorating, fake egotism and fashion non-sense.
At one point in the redecorating process, Curtis Gwinn, the “Environment Guy,” dives into a nearby dumpster to find accent pieces for Schneider’s apartment.
“I found a squirrel, believe it or not, and that’s very rare in New York. And my first thought was, maybe we could get it taxidermied-up and put it in a fierce pose on Jonathan’s desk, maybe keep pencils in its mouth or something. But we ended up not bringing it back,” Gwinn said. “I argued that it was a squirrel, but the director still claims it was a rat.”
Although the Flab 4 said they have no intentions of doing anything with the concept beyond these three episodes, if given the opportunity to “straighten out” anyone in Hollywood, they listed Johnny Depp, Aston Kutcher, Tom Cruise and Michael Jackson as their first choices. But the fun wouldn’t stop there – of the three leading males on “Full House,” the straight guys said they would love to revamp Uncles Joey and Jesse.
“I’d do over Uncle Jesse. I think his whole rock ‘n’ roll fantasy, it just wasn’t very real. We could correct that with some football and rugby,” said Riggles.
“I didn’t really appreciate that dude with the puppet, (Joey). A grown man shouldn’t keep a puppet on his hand,” said Kyle Grooms, the “Information Guy.”
The cast said that although “Straight Plan” is intended to be funny, it has cultural significance.
“This past year it’s been sort of gay culture, gay television, gay life in general. Any time anything snowballs and gets really big, it always needs a release,” Gwinn said.”And it just so happens that doing the flip and the reverse of it is that release. It releases pressure. It releases tension. It’s sort of pointing out the elephant in the room.”
“And I think it points out the fact that there really aren’t differences between everybody at the end of the day,” the newly made-over Schneider said. “I really enjoyed working with these guys. I don’t have a lot of straight friends, and I felt like I fit in. I felt like we were comrades and had a task to accomplish. And I think with our society today, where there’s so many divisions, so much controversy, this actually shows that there doesn’t have to be.”