Monday, June 27

Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness Review: The Craziest Teacher You Could Wish For | TV

WWhat is the television? After watching Getting Curious With Jonathan Van Ness (Netflix), I don’t think I know anymore. This series is an offshoot of the Queer Eye star’s podcast of the same name, in which Van Ness literally becomes curious about a topic and then talks to various guests about it. The podcast is long-running, well-established, and very charming, but the question of whether it needed to become more of a visual experience has yet to be answered.

Van Ness is clearly a star. The former hairdresser made a name for himself with the extremely hilarious online recaps of Gay of Thrones, and went on to become part of the new Fab Five in the updated and improved series of Queer Eye makeovers, which is always good for a scream. cathartic and a renewed sense. of faith in humanity. Van Ness is the one the contestants often open up to, usually while having their hair sprayed. Friendly, warm and an impressive interviewer, they come across as someone who really wants to listen and learn. They are also excitable. All this prepares them well to present all kinds of magazine programs.

The first episode, Are Bugs Gorgeous or Gross? (we’ve all wondered), makes it sound like the whole thing will play out like a high-camp, low-budget version of The Green Planet. See Van Ness speak to a variety of experts and entomologists about the importance of insects; if you can keep a strong stomach while watching a termite queen do her thing, you have more resilience than me. “That’s really cool,” Van Ness coos, though I’m not sure I believe them. It’s a high-octane mix of facts, images, and parody. Van Ness regularly appears dressed as an angel or demon, to declare an insect “Beautiful!” or “Disgusting!” At one point, Drag Race star Monét X Change appears to be co-hosting a fake red carpet event, yelling about the “reality” of bugs walking it.

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He’s busy and unnerving, but he finds his voice pretty quickly. Despite all the fun bits about bugs and Van Ness’s willingness to get stuck (he actually gets stuck, when a chef serves him bugs), he eventually drifts into a more nuanced zone, if he can call a dance routine. choreographed on the cultural history of hairstyles with Angela Davis Y Elizabeth I nuanced.

The rest of the episodes are more in keeping with Van Ness’s zany, open-ended approach to learning, with frank discussions of, officially, hair, snacks, the gender binary, skyscrapers, and figure skating. Beneath the surface, however, these end up as empathic explorations of identity. The episode about gender, Van Ness identifies as non-binary, features that weird thing, an on-screen discussion about non-binary people, between non-binary people, that is not contradictory. “I literally can’t speak,” Van Ness manages to say, clearly moved by the experience.

There is much to recommend. Academics with unusual majors are invaluable on television, and watching people’s unbridled dedication to wigs, spiders, or 18th-century paintings is always entertaining. Van Ness is a delight to watch, so easy to chat with strangers, and his wide-eyed enthusiasm is infectious. Her conversation with Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley, about Pressley’s relationship to her hair as a black woman and her experiences with alopecia, is unusually intimate for an interview with a politician. Maybe a guest spot on Newsnight wouldn’t be a terrible idea.

The funny thing, though, is that as a podcast, this format is fantastic, and if Van Ness were to post this show on YouTube, I’d fully embrace its fast-paced, scattered energy. I watch Netflix in the same browser and on the same screen, but something here seems less easy. Does that mean this is TV or not? I don’t know yet. Maybe Van Ness can answer that in another series.

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