A new Fab Five set out to Atlanta to help the city’s straight men refine their wardrobes, grooming, diet, cultural pursuits, and home décor.
As someone who watched the Queer Eye way back when they were zhooshing and making over straight men from New York, I was vaguely intrigued when I heard Netflix was rebooting it, but my apathy for the reboot trend was too strong. Then the internet blew up for days after the premiere, and I caved to the amorphous internet peer pressure. And thank God I did, because this is one of the rare things the internet did not get wrong!
The new Queer Eye is ten times more delightful than the original. I love the inclusion of not just straight men (though they are still the majority) but transgender people, gay people, and even, gasp, a woman. (Proving that anyone can be unfashionable and still require a little help to be their best self!) Moving the location from New York to mostly teeny country towns in Georgia also brings a new dynamic to the series, especially in today’s fear-of-the-other culture.
The camaraderie of the new Fab Five is what makes this show shine, as evidenced by the figurative explosion of popularity the guys seem to have experienced over the last six months. I would totally want to hang out with these guys for a week, and through multiple viewings of the two currently streaming seasons, we can!
Familiar New Faces:
This new iteration of the Fab Five is seriously gorgeous. Karamo is like the male equivalent to that Life Size movie with Tyra Banks and Lindsey Lohan; a veritable Ken doll come to life. He is the culture guru, and as such is the one to make their heroes (what they call their subjects) face the things they don’t want to, unpack their feelings, and basically grow their inner lives while they’re cleaning up their outer ones. To be fair, all the guys connect and interact with the makeover-ee in thoughtful ways, but Karamo seems to have that special touch to draw the honesty out.
People online give Antoni a hard time because he is often the quietest of the bunch (I can imagine it would be tough to compete with Karamo and Jonathan during a conversation). To me, he seems like a fellow introvert: quiet until he has something to say rather than going with whatever thought that pops into his head. His cooking lessons are probably the most shafted portion of the show, but you can tell he’s passionate about food and what they’re trying to doing on this show for people. I loved the moment where he has the church lady teach him how to make the most mayo-iest pasta salad known to man and sincerely compliments the crap out of it.
Jonathan is probably my fave Fab Fiver, which I was not expecting (at first I thought he’d be a bit much). But despite his over-the-top nature, he backs it up with genuine, pure enthusiasm, a huge heart, and a sharp mind, as evidenced in his polite-but-firm rebuttal to Antoni about that homophobic Colorado baker in this Vulture article. He’s the most soundbite-able one of the group, like in this moment that cracked me the eff up:
“If you accidentally knock your wife up, you have to name the baby Jonathan because it’s totally my fault because I got you this haircut. And if you have a little girl, it could be my last name with an ‘a,’ which is Vanessa, which is also coincidentally my drag name.”
Gah, but wait—maybe Tan is my favorite! He has the most adorable accent and the best smile and he’s so damn cheerful all the time, but has got a bit of a snarky edge that I love. He’s one of those people who look amazing with gray hair. Tan is the fashion guru and consequently wears some wack-a-doo stuff on his own bod, but keeps it low-key yet tailored for the subjects of the piece. I also like that he limits his finds to stores that the guy or gal can realistically keep shopping at after the Fab Five are gone.
Ah, Bobby. Initially he was the one I connected with the least; like Antoni, he’s a little quieter and less in your face. But Bobby opens up as the show goes on, talking about his childhood spent in the church and how he felt abandoned by all of them after he told them he was gay. There was a powerful scene in the first episode of the second season where they help a woman who’s son is gay come back to their hometown church, and he was redecorating their church hall but refused to step foot in the church itself. My heart broke for Bobby and I feel like he really shines in the second season as quite a sensitive soul. Plus, I do love his décor. He favors bold colors, leaning towards clean, contemporary pieces but mixes in the comfortable and chic.
Couch-Sharing Capability: High…Or Low
You will probably want someone next to you on the couch who you can run commentary with. On the flip side, heed my warning: there will be tears, and they will be yours! I was not expecting Call the Midwife levels of sobbing going on, but there were certain episodes (like the gay guy who wanted to come out to his stepmom, and the aforementioned church episode) that had me doing that teary, shuddery breath—you know the one.
Recommended Level of Inebriation: Dealer’s Choice
The Fab Five often grab a cocktail or a beer when they’re gathered in their loft to watch the culmination of their hard work. This is such a feel-good show, though, that I don’t need anything else to alter my mood. I also find it a great late-night watch when I need something to make me happy before bed, instead of my usual perusal of the interwebs that makes me want to stab a person in a red tie…
Use of Your Streaming Subscription: Excellent
This is why you have Netflix. Even if you don’t like reality TV—this isn’t reality TV. There’s no backstabbing and (mostly) no fake drama. And this is not just a “makeover” show for the body, it’s also for the soul.