Come for the makeovers, stay for the love and avocados.
“I’m not crying; it’s just been raining on my face,” Flight of the Conchords.
You might find yourself saying any number of variations on this phrase for crying when watching the Netflix reboot of Queer Eye. Taking the premise of the hit show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, which aired on Bravo from 2003–2007, Queer Eye has a team of five specialists, known as The Fab Five, perform a makeover each episode. The Fab Five don’t just reinvent an appearance; they offer guidance on revamping wardrobes, redecorating, grooming, lifestyle choices, and food.
After releasing a brief eight episodes earlier this year, The Fab Five are back with a new set of episodes for Netflix. The Fab Five each have their areas of expertise: Jonathan Van Ness (the grooming expert), Karamo Brown (culture), Antoni Porowski (cuisine), Bobby Berk (design), and Tan France (fashion). Each one of them has unique talents and flair that add something to the show. And sometimes, Queer Eye will focus on the journey one of the men has with the makeover subject. This includes episodes like when Bobby Berk discusses his challenges with Christianity, and Karamo Brown tackles his fears of working with a police officer about how people of color are treated. It is heavy stuff, but it can lead to plenty of feel-good moments. In this age, we can all use that extra ounce of goodness.
This new version has dropped the idea that only straight men need assistance and have broadened the scope of the original program. In season two, The Fab Five advise people of all gender identities, including women and trans men. This is certainly an improvement over the original. Changing someone for reality television might be enough to satisfy audiences, but something happens while watching Queer Eye. Not only do these men become coaches to their charges, but their guidance and heart touch everyone who watches.
One of the best episodes of season one featured The Fab Five helping someone with quite the dilemma. In the episode called ‘To Gay or Not Too Gay,’ AJ is a gay man who lives in Atlanta and works as a civil engineer. He is living two different lives, and he has problems with his self-confidence. This is where the plot thickens. Every contestant on Queer Eye has some kind of goal they want to achieve. Whether this is raising money for a fire station or rekindling an old romance, there is a specific goal in mind. For AJ it is that he wants to come out to his stepmother because he loves her. He also has been harboring regrets that he couldn’t come out to his late father. When AJ reads a letter that he had written to his late father with his stepmother present, it is a lovely and heartwarming sequence. AJ isn’t a man that needed to much work with his physical appearance (OK his flat was a disaster), but The Fab Five gave him the confidence he needed to push him to the next level. That’s some magical TV right there.
Another episode that has become synonymous with the Queer Eye reboot is the series pilot ‘You Can’t Fix Ugly.’ In this episode, we learn about Tom, who lives a very mundane life. He lives in a tiny home, he goes to the same Mexican restaurant every day, and then sits in his favorite recliner and watches television. The goal of his makeover is to make him more presentable for his upcoming car show. This also has the added goal of reconnecting with his ex-wife, Abby. The Fab Five aren’t at their best yet because everything is just starting along, so why is this episode memorable? Mostly because of Tom and his social media presence. Near the end of the episode, Tom has invited Abby has his date and the sparks seem to be flying. Since the end of the episode a lot has happened in Tom’s life, and that makes him one of the most intriguing makeovers during the early episodes.
Of course, the other reason why Queer Eye works so well is the personalities on screen. These guys are having fun doing their job, and that happiness is contagious. You’ll laugh at the dad humor and comical one-liners. Also, you’ll begin to understand that Antoni exists on the show only to show people the magic of guacamole (not really, but the show has embraced the gag).
You might stumble upon Queer Eye and find it heartwarming and entertaining, but how about a learning experience? I didn’t expect to learn anything while watching the show. I thought I was a pretty well-adjusted man who had his shit together. I dress well enough, try to keep my fitness up and try to make good decisions when eating. I learned that there was a lot of things I could be doing better. From beard care, dressing properly, to even making guacamole for a party, I took lessons I learned from Queer Eye and brought them into my life. And I’ve been rewarded for making those changes. Not only do friends and family see the fruits of my labor, but I can also see changes in my self-esteem. I’d say that is a pretty big win for watching a reality television show.
So, why aren’t you watching Queer Eye? The show has tons of heart, life lessons, and pure joy to crack even the most staunch critic. There aren’t many shows that can make you run the full gamut of feelings and then deliver on the premise every time. Queer Eye isn’t just for a select audience; it is for everyone. Now is the perfect time to see what it is all about.