Todd Maddox, restaurateur and owner of Plooky’s Cajun Boilin’ Pot, Canyon Lake, Texas, USA, becomes imprisoned in grief – before Queer Eye’s Fab Five rescue him – sharing his story and showing us how to rescue ourselves from the same traps.
We’ve become addicted to Netflix’s new Queer Eye, with the gorgeous Fab Five, working their magic on modern day Cinderellas. And isn’t there a little bit of her in all of us – pitting ourselves against the ugly step-mother of bad thoughts and the ugly step-sisters of negative thinking?
In Queer Eye’s Episode 5 Season 6, as the five mosey through the state of Texas, we meet Todd, who they christen ‘Craw-Zaddy’.
“Get your handkerchiefs, y’all,” says the promo, and we needed ours.
Jodie would want me to go on, Todd realises.
Todd clings to the past to honour his beloved wife Jodie, who died suddenly of an aneurysm 10 years before. As she died, she asked him to keep Plooky’s going, the restaurant the couple built together.
But Todd’s life was completely frozen when Jodie died. His instincts tell him he needs to recover. But, sad and sagging, he’s drifted slowly down, as has Plooky’s.
“Moments of nostalgia is one thing, but a time capsule is quite another,” says Antoni Porowski, the Fab Five’s food and wine expert, as he assesses the yawning gap between what the restaurant is and what it is meant to be.
Todd reveals his sorrows to Karamo, as they fish.
Karamo Brown, the ‘culture’ expert, is really a mobile grief counsellor. (Actually he’s a trained psychotherapist and social worker in real life, which you can tell.)
“He doesn’t envisage he’s got a life anymore,” Karamo explains of Todd.
Karamo takes Todd fishing, something Todd used to enjoy doing before Jodie died. He asks what Jodie would really want of him.
“She would want me to go on,” Todd replies and it’s hard to wipe away the tears.
“It’s too easy to exist and too hard to live.” Todd explains a little later.
“A large part of Todd’s identiy is wrapped up in the things that he and Jodie did and he is forgetting who he is,” Karamo tells us.
“That guy’s still in you and it’s time to bring him out,” he gently tells Todd, urging him to take up life again.
The Fab Five are kind but funny with it. Tan France, the clothing expert, says to Todd that he’s going to say something incredibly hurtful, then explains “Your toes are not flip-flop ready,” of Todd’s awful footwear, that we in Australia call thongs.
Gentle wisdom wrapped in fun, with the Fab Five.
We love the way gentle wisdom is wrapped up in popular culture in the Queer Eye series. On the surface it’a about self-improvement. But that’s not really what it’s about. They take people in all sorts of situations and give them gentle nudges towards hope and living life more confidently, more fully. In this case, Todd is a classic example of something that happens all too frequently with grief: getting stuck in it. This happens surprisingly often and surprisingly quickly. Grief becomes depression and the depression is justified as grief.
Our culture tends to define grief as ‘abnormal’ a little too early. See Good Grief!’s When is grief abnormal. At Good Grief! we’re the first to say, people have the right to take plenty of time to recover. But there are times when we all need help. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference – time or help?
We can’t all have the Fab Five working on our case. But we can reach out to services, resources and others. And we can also give those we love that same gentle nudge.
Are you struggling with grief? Don’t let it solidify!
Nathan MacArthur and Wendy Liu offer online webinars. They’re a great place to start if you’re locked in – literally or figuratively. Read our article about these webinars at Zooming in on grief via webinar.
And read about Gus Worland’s Gotcha4Life program, a fun program designed to help men manage grief, in our article Gus Worland has Gotcha4life.
Check out our Good Grief! articles and resources about grief and death. We’ve got more than 300 articles to help you navigate that rocky ride.
Read what happened next in Todd’s life in Elle magazine’s Here’s What Todd Maddox, Queer Eye’s Crawfish King, Is Doing Now
And here is the Netflix trailer for Season Six of Queer Eye. Craw-Zaddy is Episode Five.