The makeover subject of this episode is Cory, a human being who answers the question, “What would Boss Hogg look like if he loved costumes?” Cory is a cop in Winder, Georgia, and he likes NASCAR. He likes it so much that he throws these themed parties where he dresses up in ridiculous outfits to entertain his friends. One of them looks like a cross between the skin of a pineapple and a Roman centurion’s breastplate. Another is all sorts of different stars and stripes patterns matched with a red, white, and blue mohawk thingy. A third can only be described as the “neon demon.”
I was going to make fun of Cory and his weird costumes until I realized that this is straight-boy drag. Not only are there colorful clothes, wigs, performances, and celebrations, but it bends and heightens expectations about how one is supposed to act. Cory is, in fact, a male-to-male cross dresser: He gets rid of his everyday attire, which is a super-butch police uniform, and replaces it with a more playful side of masculine identity that delights in aggressive sporting outings, getting wasted, and bonding with his bros. So I’m actually super into Cory’s dress-up habit. I hope his drag never stops.
But that’s not why the Fab Five visit his house, or more accurately, his scary raised-ranch basement with rubber-lined walls. It’s just awful. The upstairs of his house is cute in an antiseptically feminine way, but Bobby, our design guru and premiere outfitter of IHOP franchises around the nation, thinks that is what keeps Cory in his subterranean den and not upstairs mixing with his wife and daughters.
Even sadder than the basement, however, is Cory’s (non-drag) wardrobe. All he wears is gym shorts, overly baggy T-shirts, and flip-flops, like a thumb that wrapped itself in a scarf in an opportunity to pass itself off as a real human. Not only is it slovenly, it makes him look larger than he really is because he has all of this excess synthetic fabric hanging off his frame. I almost wept when he told Tan that he buys his clothes at the big-and-tall section of the supermarket. Then I truly wept because I realized that this is, in fact, how most American men buy their clothes. I don’t know that I will ever fully recover.
By now, it is well established that I don’t like Karamo because he doesn’t really do anything. When he asks Cory where he takes his wife on dates, Cory says, “We just go to eat and then walk around the Walmart.” Karamo is appalled, but it is what it is. That is how these people spend their time. “What about the theater or a museum?” he asks. Girl, do you not realize where these people live? It’s not like the Degas Library is fighting to open in Winder, Georgia.
I can’t hate Karamo too much for this episode, though, because he and Cory really bond over their love of cars and hip-hop. Then, when Karamo decides to engage Cory in a conversation about Black Lives Matter and police brutality against African-Americans, it does actually seem constructive. They agree that if the opposing sides could get together and listen to each other, perhaps they’d find more common ground than they realize. It was very sweet and I hate that I’m such a cynic that a part of me thinks it was only for the cameras.
So that is Karamo’s big contribution, other than getting theater tickets to see Finding Neverland for the family. Too bad they had to drive an hour to Atlanta to see it.
Tan takes Cory shopping and the biggest thing he teaches him is how to buy clothes that actually fit. This lesson makes him look like he lost about 40 pounds, even though he didn’t even do one squat or eat one baby carrot. I don’t know why they insisted on buying him all of these suits and ties, though. Sure, he looks fantastic, but he really only needs one suit. With no middle ground, the backward slide into T-shirts and gym shorts seems inevitable.
Antoni shows Cory how to make a salad out of avocados and grapefruit. Okay, sure, whatever. I just can’t stop staring at Antoni in that two-toned knit mock turtleneck T-shirt. It’s like my 1997 Miami nightclub fantasy come to life and I just want to rub that avocado all up and down his body and then slowly eat it off while listening to Salt-N-Pepa. He also shows Cory how to make a sangria. Girl, really? Why don’t you try to elevate his NASCAR tailgate game by showing him how to make some fun cocktails instead? If he pulls out fruity wine for his cop friends, they’re going to call him just that: a fruity wine.
Jonathan doesn’t have much to do this episode, other than mug for the camera and make me laugh, which he does with such skill and alacrity that I think that we’re basically best Judys now. He also shows Cory how to make exfoliant out of coconut oil, sugar, and essential oils. It also doubles as a fun activity with his daughters, which is cute.
Meanwhile, Bobby redesigns the house and makes it look like an Art of Shaving franchise in the King of Prussia Mall. I will give him credit, however, for getting Cory to take all of his late father’s clothes out of his closet. Cory was keeping them to feel close to his father, so Bobby made them into a quilt that he left as a surprise for Cory. That made me tear up a little bit. Damn it, Bobby. Don’t make me like you.
At the end of their visit, Cory doesn’t want the Fab Five to leave. He suggests that they could live in the trailer in the backyard and help him forever, which is a really sweet sentiment, but I wish that they had paused at that moment and said, “Well, there is one more thing …” And then they could have finally addressed all of those Trump/Pence posters in Cory’s basement. I wished they had said, “We helped you get pretty, now you can help us get our rights.” I wished that they mentioned all the awful things the vice-president has said about gay people and tried to change Cory’s mind, if only on this one issue. After all, if this show is about understanding each other — if it’s about doing more than introducing straight men to pomade and the joy of a simple syrup — then we can’t just ignore those awful signs in the basement.