TV Viewers Have Eye for 'Queer' Show

07/17/2003 at 08:16 AM EDT

The ratings are fabulous for the premiere episode of Bravo's "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," in which five gay men remake a straight guy, the cable channel has announced, Reuters reports.

The much-ballyhooed show's premiere Tuesday at 10 p.m. set new records for the NBC-owned network among total viewers, households, audiences aged 18-49 and audiences aged 25-54, according to Nielsen Media Research.

Bravo said the show attracted 1.64 million viewers, which made it the No. 2 ad-supported cable network during the hour. Until Tuesday, Bravo had ranked No. 38 in that hour for the entire season.

The network also said the show's ratings were nine times better than last season's average when it came to attracting audiences aged 25-54, and more than seven times better than its usual average.

Not that critics were necessarily as enthusiastic as audiences. The Washington Post's TV guru, Tom Shales, wrote in Tuesday's editions: "Forced to choose between scorn and condescension, gay people could hardly be blamed for preferring the latter -- and thus might not object to the stereotypes on parade in the series, which each week dispatches five New York gay men to rescue some poor, style-starved straight person at a crossroads in his life."

Still, the successful effect of "Queer" should please the producers of Bravo's next big gay show debut, set for July 29: "Boy Meets Boy," in which a bachelor plays the dating game with a group of eligible men. The twist, however, is that some of the men are actually straight.

As if dating weren't already tough enough.

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