Queer Eye Recap: No Laughing Matter

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Photo: Courtesy of Netflix
Queer Eye

Queer Eye

Below Average Joe Season 1 Episode 7
Editor's Rating 4 stars

The subject of this episode, Joe, looks exactly like every guy you see who lives in his parents’ basement. He’s a little bit overweight, he has a haircut that should be the star of Most Basic Supercuts in America dot Tumblr dot com, he has glasses that are so nondescript that not even a police sketch artist could draw them, and he has a beard that says, in equal measure, “Leave me alone,” and, “I will stare at you creepily on the subway.”

Joe, however, doesn’t live in his parents’ basement — he lives in the room next door to his parents. It is such a sad room. He has Green Bay Packers posters and memorabilia all over the wall, even though he lives outside of Atlanta. What is wrong with the Falcons, dude? What sort of cheese-head is this guy? He has the same blue plaid bedspread that every high schooler’s mom picked out for him at Target because, well, his mother probably bought it for him at Target when he was in high school.

The worst thing about the room, though, is that he has a Stone Temple Pilots poster. Now, I was a teen in the ’90s, and even I didn’t have a Stone Temple Pilots poster on my wall. (A Courtney Love poster, yes.) Joe is almost a decade younger than me, so what the hell is his excuse? And why does he have all of his CDs in books? And VHS tapes? What the hell year is he living in? Why doesn’t he want to throw any of that stuff away? You can stream every episode of Star Trek on the internet now, there’s no reason to be hoarding old VHS episodes that you taped off the television.

Joe recently lost over 100 pounds thanks to diet and exercise, so none of his clothes fit anymore. They actually look more like a sail you would find on a cartoon illustration of a homemade raft, but affixed to a person who is trying very hard to disappear behind his glasses. All of the Fab Five note his mannerisms, which make him look very passive. He’s always folding his arms, trying to get people not to notice him, and looking at the floor in case they do. Oh, and let’s not forget that he’s an aspiring stand-up comedian. That’s not really the look for someone trying to wow onstage.

Before we proceed, everyone who regularly reads these recaps knows that I can’t stand Karamo, and I have now found something else that drives me crazy about him: He seems to only wear satin bomber jackets. In this episode alone he wears two, a purple floral one and a brown camouflage one. Is it time that we give this guy his own fashion makeover? I mean, all that Tan ever does is tell these straight guys to layer, but Karamo has taken this to the extreme.

Back to Joe. There is a hilarious scene where Jonathan takes a black light to the bed sheets and finds no bodily fluids to speak of, something odd for a 31-year-old who is single. He realizes it’s because Joe and his parents share a bedroom wall. He does an experiment where he moans and pounds like he’s getting it on in the room, and Tan goes into his parents’ room to see if he can hear it. Of course he can. This experiment somehow ends with Jonathan twerking on the bed in a denim jumpsuit, and I am not at all mad about it.

Bobby gets an idea: How about if they redo the basement and put Joe there? No! Do not bring this man into the basement! He’s already enough of a cliché that putting him in the basement is dooming him to some sort of sad stereotype of a depressed wannabe comedian without a job or a lover who can’t get out of his own way. But Bobby does it anyway because Bobby has never met a bad idea or a Restoration Hardware catalogue that he didn’t like.

They go to Ikea to get a bunch of furniture, which, really? That is what everyone in their 30s does anyway. Please. Bobby redoes the basement and, other than making a fake window out of some LED lights, it looks like a well-decorated RA’s room at a mid-tier state school, complete with a kitchenette. This guy doesn’t cook at all and his parents have a full kitchen upstairs. Why does he need a kitchenette? Just give him some more space for his freaking football-gear collection and books and books of CDs.

Antoni does absolutely nothing this entire episode except for wearing a series of too tight T-shirts that made me flood my proverbial basement. (There is one particular striped polo shirt that he wore to Ikea that made me want to shower with him fully clothed and slowly peel the wet fabric off of his toned flesh, and then make out with him until the end of the Trump presidency.)

Tan takes Joe shopping somewhere other than Kohl’s and buys him some jeans that fit, a bunch of polos, and some T-shirts and blazers. So, he gets the standard Tan treatment. Even in nicer clothes, there is something about Joe that makes him still look schlubby. It’s like putting a fresh coat of paint on a fire hydrant: It looks shiny and new, but you can still tell what’s underneath. That isn’t a dig at Joe’s size or body type, it’s more about the way he carries himself, as if he’s a question mark at the end of the sentence of his own life.

Jonathan fixes Joe’s hair and makes him shave off his beard, which is really a good thing. For a moment, when he has everything left but a mustache, Jonathan thinks about telling him to keep it. Can we please just give one guy on this show a mustache? According to the American Mustache Institute, a mustache makes every man’s face 78 percent more attractive. It also makes every stand-up comedian at least 46 percent more hilarious and memorable. This world needs more mustaches, and it is up to the Fab Five to make it happen.

Karamo did the absolute most this episode and, for a man who doesn’t even really have a job, that is saying a lot. He brings Joe to the American Legion and makes him do a comedy act that, while it doesn’t exactly kill, at least brings smiles to some grizzled old ladies whose faces are weathered by cigarette smoke and the consternation of talking grocery scanners at the Piggly Wiggly. Really, the highlight of this trip is Jonathan’s outfit, which consists of a sweater with no shoulders and some sort of extra-long kilt. It looks like he’s wrapped in three different blankets that no one bothered to finish.

Then Karamo does a photo shoot with Joe so that he has some images of him as a comedian for his website and social-media platforms. This is actually a very good use of Karamo’s time and abilities. However, there is a grooming expert right there and no one bothered to put a coat of makeup on Joe’s face? Thank god for Photoshop, which they needed to remove the giant zit on his forehead that no one thought to slather with a little bit of concealer and love before the photographers started snapping their pictures.

Finally, Joe goes to his big comedy gig and … he’s a big enough hit! He’s no Jerry Seinfeld, but with some more time and a lot of practice, he could be a working comedian. He thanks the Fab Five for giving him the confidence in his abilities and his looks to really flourish. The big surprise to everyone, though, is his friend Chloe. He asks her out on a date after the show and then plants a kiss on her right in the bar in front of the camera. This is a whole new Joe! But watch out, Chloe: Even though he got some contacts, new duds, and a great haircut, he’s still an unemployed aspiring stand-up comedian who now, very literally, lives in his parents’ basement.

Queer Eye Recap: No Laughing Matter