When it hit the airwaves this summer, Bravo's Queer Eye for the Straight Guy turned conventional sexual power dynamics upside down. While not moving too far from traditional stereotypes, the show suggested the possibility that after years of being mocked and diminished in popular culture representations, homosexual protagonists - a group known as the Fab 5 - were now free to mock and improve straight people.
Out of that fertile ground, two Queer Eye parodies are set to emerge, both inverting the Bravo show's formula by introducing a panel of straight men ready to teach gay men how to pass for straight.
It may take a road map to tell the dueling parodies apart. Comedy Central is preparing Straight Plan for the Gay Man for a February launch, while Bravo will counter with the hour-long special Straight Eye for the Queer Guy, set to air sometime next year.
The Comedy Central project will take the form of pure comedy in its three episodes. Four straight stand-up veterans - Curtis Gwynn, Billy Merritt, Kyle Grooms and Rob Riggle - will be the Flab 4, a group of "experts" in the ways of heterosexual masculinity.
The Flab 4 will be enlisted to help three gay men achieve their straight dreams: Jonathan, a fashion salesman who wants to understand the life of a blue-collar worker; Roger, a yoga instructor who wants to join a pick-up basketball game; and Stephen, a singer-dancer who would like to see if he could become a ladies man.
Each will get a crash course in straight male life, with the Flab 4 messing up their clothes, stripping their kitchens bare and encouraging false egotism, as they help them pass as straight for a day.
The tone of Bravo's reversal, which is expected to be a one-shot special, is a little fuzzier. Queer Eye creators David Collins and David Metzler will oversee Straight Eye.
"It's done in a fun spirit, a campy spirit, in a way that allows the straight guys to have a little fun with the Fab 5," Collins promises.
While the special is still in the earliest planning stages, the producers speculate that the Fab 5 will be involved. They also hope that the panel of straight "experts" will include some of the men who were made over in the first season of Queer Eye.
"It's also a way to show that these two worlds are not that far apart, so if our Fab 5 are teaching straight guys how to dress and how to have better social skills, then we feel the straight guys should have the opportunity to show the Fab 5 how to throw a football or how to enjoy a football game," adds Metzler.
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