“Queer Eye” Two: A Decent Proposal (The Painters)


At the beginning of each episode, Bobby, Johnathan, Karamo, Antoni and Tan are driving  to meet their “next victim”, as they put it, and discussing their project for the week. In this episode it is William, nominated by his girlfriend Shannon.
Cut to the video: William and Shannon have set up two easels side by side in their living room and they are painting together. I like the way they are applying the paint—it is sensual and thoughtful.
Shannon and William met as managers in a Walmart. My first real job was at a Sears in Tampa. I don’t think it’s anybody’s dream to be a store department manager, which actually made the managers I met there an interesting bunch—they had other dreams. (Except for the amusing and generous appliance salesman. He was a happy guy with a big family and made a lot working on commission.)

These two have found their soulmate. It is intimated that their prior dating history was not happy. William is freaking, he wants to marry Shannon but he’s lost in his own mind—he doesn’t know how to ask. And she has been dropping what he calls hints—like the kind of ring she likes. She doesn’t care how he asks and I admire the sweetness of heterosexual women—she knows he has to come up with it himself—for his male pride—well, I admire and despair.

William has self-described as “terrified of heartbreak and rejection.” He doesn’t want anything to change. Isn’t that just like a painter? Don’t we all want to stop time? So William has the artist’s temperament and Shannon looks like a natural.

The house is a mess, crappy old furniture is left over from Shannon’s old boyfriend’s time. It is awful. But there are paintings on the wall and I start to get interested in them.
About this one, Bobby says, “Mark Rothko’s bleeding of colors meets a little Dali surrealism with the spectacles. Interesting choice, William.”
I suppose I don’t have to mention that it’s nothing like a Rothko or a Dali.

Johnathan says about this one, which is Shannon’s, “I love that you guys do that together, though.”
I hate that “though.” He then goes on to imagine them painting topless, because in his world, ”everything that is romantic is topless.”
Condescending. And the painting is then replaced with “better art.”

The Fab Five seem to be more comfortable with the idea that William and Shannon are “film buffs,” which is why Bobby replaces the painting with the cute film cliche below. About the desert landscape, Johnathan says, “This is like giving me Bob Ross-like realness, honey.”

In the bedroom, this awful piece of shit, the black and white photo of the-boat on-the-beach, probabaly because it is big enough to hold down the wall. That’s the way decorators and often gallerists think. Instead of their own paintings below.


I fear people are literally losing the ability to see. Visual discrimination is a pretty important tool in life, to identify and understand people’s expressions and character, what’s good to eat, to be aware of our surroundings, for safety, for pleasure—it’s a beautiful, ugly, fascinating old world if you know how to see it.

The desert landscape and the other paintings are better than the movie still and the boat and the godawful eye chart with the upbeat saying. Can you see that?
Better in being unique, better as a part of the history of William and Shannon, as a record of their thoughts, better for them as painters because they might look at them and think about what they will paint next and keep or change and I’m not sure if they even know it, but the paintings have something.

What would you call “The End?” or “The Boat” Are they signifiers? Or a form of conceptual art? Existing only in the mind and for the reference ,to signal middle class respectability, to be cute and recognized and not to be actively looked at? So many places we go have “art”, hotel rooms, corporations.

I am so stupid. I always thought it was worthless so nobody would bother to steal it—but it seems to have become an ideal.


To see my first review of the art in Queer Eye:

“Queer Eye” Is Great but the Wall Décor Ain’t