I grew up watching the original Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (later shortened to Queer Eye), a fun reality show that followed five gay guys as they gave makeovers to clueless straight men. So when it was announced that Netflix was rebooting it, I thought they were going to keep the light-hearted spirit of the original. What I got was so much more. Netflix’s Queer Eye was heartfelt and empowering, and I found myself crying in many of the episodes.
The core of Queer Eye, for both the original and its reboot, is the Fab 5, a group of gay guys out to do makeovers. This time around, the show invited Jonathan Van Ness to do grooming, Tan France to focus on fashion, Bobby Berk to take over interiors, Antoni Porowski to teach cooking, and Karamo Brown to impart advice on culture.
While the original focused on men in New York City, the reboot decided to go smaller, giving makeovers to men, regardless of gender, in Atlanta. And because the first season only has eight episodes, the show was able to curate a good mix of “heroes”: a truck driver who calls himself ugly, a gay guy who wants to come out to his stepmother, a religious man who works two jobs to provide for the family he’s devoted to, and a self-deprecating comedian who lost both his weight and his groove.
What I love the most about Netflix’s Queer Eye is how it fearlessly faces social issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, religion, discrimination, and internalized homophobia. The Fab 5 take it in stride, patiently explaining the nuances of the scary time we live in now. In one episode, Karamo, a black man, is the victim of a prank that sparks a conversation on police violence. In another, a religious man gave a speech about acceptance which brought the Fab Five (and myself) to tears.
While the stars of the show were the heroes, the Fab 5 were so charming that I would love to be friends with them.
My favorite is Jonathan, the grooming guru who unapologetically pops into the heroes’ lives with his glorious hair and larger-than-life personality. One of his best traits is that he doesn’t give the heroes unrealistic routines. He starts by asking how many minutes they allow for grooming, then build a routine based on that. His best trait? He shamelessly flirts with everyone and heaps countless praises, even before the visit to the barber or the grooming aisle.
I also liked Tan, who always managed to make shopping for clothes therapeutic. A day out with him is more than just buying jeans or printed shirts (his favorite). Like Jonathan, he has a way of massaging egos and building self-confidence, without imposing too much of his personal style. A lot of people are confused with Karamo’s role as the culture guy, but he spends most of his time as a therapist. It’s well-deserved, though. The guy has experience as a counselor for the LGBT youth.
We rarely get to see Bobby but his work as the team’s design guy is often the most breathtaking. The makeovers he does are usually elegant and tasteful. There’s a whole debate online on Antoni’s cooking skills since all he prepares are basic dishes like hotdogs and grilled cheese, but there’s an argument in teaching simple recipes for guys who don’t spend much time in the kitchen. He used to be the personal chef of Ted Allen (Queer Eye‘s original food guy) so I guess he’s qualified?
There’s so much to love with the new Queer Eye. While the original version was fun and lighthearted, the Netflix reboot is both of those things but it’s also relevant. With all the crazy things happening in the world, this is the kind of positive energy that we need.
Can you believe? The show has been picked up for a second season, which will be released on Netflix on June 15, and the trailer has been released! Watch it below: