I love to write. That’s the whole point of having the blog. However, the down side is the pressure to write on certain subjects. For example, someone who I’ll refer to as “Feldman” has all but demanded that I compare the Fab Five of Michigan to the Fab Five of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. “Feldman” really knows how to put me in a spot. One of the most dynamic college basketball teams of all-time compared and contrasted with my current favorite TV show. I’m shocked ESPN’s Bill Simmons hasn’t already taken care of this comparison. OK, I’ll give it a shot.
University of Michigan, 1991-1993
Chris Webber – 6’10’’ Center
Juwan Howard – 6’9’’ Forward
Jimmy King – 6’5’’ Forward
Ray Jackson – 6’3’’ Guard
Jalen Rose – 6’8’’ Guard
Carson Kressley – Fashion
Thom Filicia – Décor
Ted Allen – Food and Wine
Jai Rodriguez – Culture
Kyan Douglas – Grooming
Chris Webber vs. Kyan Douglas:
Two wildly talented, charismatic superstars. However, both have spotty records with the game on the line.
An almost perfect mix of size, speed, and talent. Chris Webber will dunk on you, talk about your mom, and otherwise intimidate for the first 38 minutes (we’re playing with a college clock). But in those last two minutes, he’ll shrink from taking the big shots, travel, and call time outs you don’t have. After the game, he’ll unleash a profanity filled tirade that makes you wonder how someone so intelligent can act so immature.
Kyan will have your hair looking gorgeous, get you on a skin care regimen super models would die for, and make you feel good about yourself. But why is Ted Allen always taking the Straight Guy to the kitchen right when Kyan is showing him how to shave? Perhaps he’s worried Kyan will cause a nasty nick or brutal razor burn that derails the Straight Guy’s date.
C-Webb dates Tyra Banks. I don’t know whom Kyan dates, but I have a feeling it’s the gay male equivalent of Tyra Banks.
Advantage: Push. I don’t want the ball in the hands of either of these guys in a close game (first mildly suggestive line of the comparison).
Jalen Rose vs. Carson Kressley:
The boisterous straws that stir the drink. The multi-tasking, trash talking, motors that kept the car cruising down the highway.
Jalen was the 6’8’’ point guard who created incredible match-up problems in the college game. Although his job was running the offense, he could do a little of everything. He could take the outside side shot, go to the rack, and play defense. Jalen always seemed a little off, though. He could explode emotionally on the court. His interviews were the kind that always made you a little uncomfortable.
Carson is the wisecracking fashion expert and most flamboyant of Bravo’s Fab Five. Always quick with a homo-erotic joke (Grandma, “This is a Siemens couch.” Carson, “I have a semen couch, too.”). A little too willing to put out-of-shape, middle aged men in clothes that shout GAY. Yet somehow, he always has the Straight Guy wearing something that perfectly matches his physique and personality by the end of the show. And in between all his jokes, he’s really all about love.
Juwan Howard vs. Ted Allen:
Juwan was the mild-mannered sidekick to Chris Webber’s basketball genius. On any other team, he would have been a superstar. On Michigan, he quietly played in C-Web’s shadow. Until crunch-time. Then he would take over. While Webber was in the corner pouting, or chasing after referees, Juwan was the guy who would demand the ball and hit shot after shot. If he had Webber’s athletic ability, or Webber had Juwan’s head, you might be looking at the greatest college player ever. I’m talking better than Luke Axtell even.
Ted Allen, Carmel High School grad, is Queer Eye’s food and wine expert. By far the least cool of the Fab Five, he seems to mirror Juwan well in that sense. The whole point of Queer Eye is to take guys who need some help getting their wardrobe, grooming style, and homes in decent shape, then have them able to sustain the lifestyle after the Fab Five leave. I think Allen over reaches a lot. I have a hard time seeing guys living in apartments in the outer boroughs shopping at fancy food boutiques in the Village. Plus, his recipes always seem just a little too complex, guaranteeing the Straight Guy will somehow destroy it.
Jimmy King vs. Jai Rodriguez:
Very interesting match-up. Jimmy King nearly committed to Kansas. Then his mom got the 1990 US News & World Report guide to colleges. Michigan was in the top ten, Kansas in the top 50. Jimmy King went to Michigan. Jai Rodriguez was not on the early episodes of Queer Eye. Apparently he committed to another show, but realized his mistake and transferred in, after sitting out the required two episodes. OK, that last part is made up, but he was a late addition, replacing the initial choice for culture expert.
King was Michigan’s high-flying wingman. While defenses tried to clamp down on Jalen Rose at the point, or Juwan and C-Web in the paint, he blew by over-extended defenders for easy dunks and lay-ups. In the true Fab Five days, that’s about all he did. After Chris Webber and later Juwan and Jalen left for the NBA, he actually turned himself into a pretty good all-around player. He’s had a solid career on the bench in the NBA too. That’s not a knock; I’d sit my ass at the end of an NBA bench for a cool quarter million a year.
Jai is in many ways my favorite Queer. He seems cool. He’s into music and culture. I feel like I could hang out with him. That said, he uses the word amazing too much. It’s amazing how often he uses the word amazing. And his segments always seem to get cut down to almost nothing. It’s almost as though he’s around since he’s a cool guy and rarely says anything too gay, so his job is stay buddy-buddy with the Straight Guy and keep him focused if Carson gets too over-the-top.
Advantage: Jimmy King. Dunks are always good.
Ray Jackson vs. Thom Filicia:
Ray Jackson was often referred to as the Fifth Fab Five guy. The other four were all top 30 recruits; Ray was just some guy from Texas to a lot of basketball fans. He didn’t start until late in his freshman year, but when he was inserted into the starting lineup, Michigan took off. His game was kind of non-descript, too, so he rarely did anything that you had to call your buddy across the country to talk about after the game. He managed to fill whatever hole needed to be filled, though (Suggestive comment #2). If Jalen was in foul-trouble, Ray brought the ball up. If Calbert Cheney was going off for Indiana, put Ray on him and watch him get shut down. Ray did the dirty work so the other guys could shine. And like Juwan, he always seemed to come up huge in crunch time.
Thom Filicia has the hardest job on Queer Eye. He has to redecorate an entire house or apartment. While Kyan is getting facials and Carson playing dress up, Thom is picking out furniture, painting, and basically remodeling an entire residence. Anyone can get a haircut or buy some nice clothes. Redoing a house over the course of a couple days (the show is actually shot over 2-3 days) is a Herculean effort.
Advantage: Thom. The unappreciated genius of the show. Every house looks fantastic when he’s done with it.
Michigan Fab Five: 2 ½
Queer Eye Fab Five: 2 ½
A tie! I wonder how the whole kissing your sister analogy works when gay guys are part of the equation. How to break the tie? The Michigan Fab Five were the signature basketball team of our generation. They lost two championship games, but I bet outside of North Carolina, most people remember the Fab Five better than either the ’92 Duke or the ’93 UNC teams. They brought baggy shorts, black socks, and baldheads to the college game. They were the first modern college team, when personalities were becoming as important as they were in the NBA. They were brash, but did it all with a twinkle in their eye. Most importantly, when they focused, they were very, very good. One of the best teams I’ve ever seen. They were incredibly fun to watch when they were clicking.
The Queer Eye guys really can’t be judged fairly in comparison. We’re halfway through their first season. They take elements of Trading Spaces, Total Makeover, Emeril, and even Oprah and combine them into an hour of pure joy. What appears to be a gimmick at its surface is actually a very well done show. That said, the humor isn’t anything you can’t already hear on Will & Grace. For all its positive qualities, I’m not sure if it will go down in history for anything other than the novelty element.
So it looks like Michigan pulls out a close one. Wait…what’s this? Chris Webber has shot the ball into the wrong basket! This is amazing, folks! Chris Webber has blown another one for Michigan! Queers win! Queers win!
Hope you’re satisfied, “Feldman”. Have a great weekend.