Netflix’s Queer Eye is more than just a makeover show

Queer Eye first took the world by storm 15 years ago. Now it’s back, with more heart than ever before.

When Netflix announced they were rebooting the groundbreaking television series Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, we were all skeptical. Did this show really need a reboot? Is it even relevant in 2018? Fast forward to now, and we’re all in love with the Fab Five all over again.

You might have noticed how many people are enjoying the new Queer Eye. Facebook and Twitter posts abound are talking about people binging the series and, to their surprise, getting emotional. It seems like the new iteration of the original Bravo TV show has more heart, and viewers have noticed.

Queer Eye 2.0 is about more than just makeovers. The Fab Five — Tan, Jonathan, Karamo, Antoni and Bobby — are helping these men find their confidence, without mocking them. Every episode, they are excited about their new “project,” and, even though they’re funny, they are not making fun of the men they’re trying to help.

We get a glimpse into these men’s lives and their struggles, and this is why it’s resonating with so many people: it’s fun, but also grounded in reality. It’s not over the top, and it’s not a caricature of gay men attacking “gross” straight men. It’s heartfelt and real.

The show also boasts quite the diverse cast. Not only is this clear from the Fab Five themselves, with Karaomo, a black man, and Tan, who is Pakistani and Muslim, but also with the men they’re making over. They’re helping such a great variety of men: older men, men of color, a Trump supporter (major yikes, but they make it work), single men, married men, and even a “straight-acting” gay man who needed help coming out to his stepmother.

Not only is the show diverse, but it’s amazing to see how comfortable these straight men are surrounded by this iteration of the Fab Five. They can be a lot to handle, after all. On the first episode, we meet Tom, a redneck in his 50s, who couldn’t be more excited about the presence of five flamboyant gay men in his tiny apartment. He laughs along with them, he isn’t afraid of hugging them, and he seems genuinely impacted by the boys by the end of the episode.

This is what the original Queer Eye sought to do: tolerance: But the reboot goes one step further. The “straight guys” of the series aren’t just “tolerating” their queer helpers — they don’t seem to even bat an eye at their sexuality.

And the tolerance doesn’t end at sexuality. On episode 3, the Fab Five tackled something even heavier: race issues in America. This episode’s straight guy, Cory, is a cop, and a Trump supporter, which makes for an awkward moment when the boys find his “Make America Great Again” hat in the closet and a Trump/Pence sign in the garage.

To make matters worse, the episode starts out with our Fab Five getting pulled over by the police. Karamo is visibly shaken, especially when asked to step out of the car, and we’re not blaming him. There isn’t a great history between black men and police officers in the US. Even though the cop turns out to be Cory’s nominator, Karamo still can’t shake off the experience.

After bonding over their love of hip-hop, Cory and Karamo actually have a constructive discussion about Black Lives Matter and police brutality. A Trump-supporting, white cop and a gay, black man openly discuss race issues and come to the consensus that both sides need to realize they have more in common than they think, and they need to come together. It’s moments like these that take the show into the new era and keeps it grounded in today’s society.

You can joke “what do these guys even do?” (I’m looking at you, Karamo), but the Fab Five are clearly impacting these men’s lives. The show is filled with touching moments, which are what give it so much heart.

Look at Tom from episode 1, and how excited he was to be made over. He kept telling the boys “You can’t fix ugly,” which they immediately shut down. By the end, Tom was absolutely beaming with confidence.

Or Neal, who was so awkward and closed off that he was squirming every time the boys touched or complimented him. But they get him to open up, and when his family and friends are welcomed into his home, he looks 100% more comfortable. He even willingly gives out hugs!

And of course, we couldn’t talk about the impact the boys had without mentioning AJ. AJ is a civil engineer from Atlanta, and he’s gay. But unlike the Fab Five, he doesn’t want to come off as “too gay” and often puts on a macho air to hide his sexuality, even though he’s in a relationship with a man. The boys come in to help him accept himself, and show him that there are different facets to being a gay man.

One of AJ’s biggest regrets is not coming out to his father before he passed away, so he’s seeking help to come out to his stepmother. By the end of the episode, he’s ready to open up, and reads an emotional letter to her, who couldn’t be more accepting. You will definitely need the tissues.

Not only are the Fab Five helping these men find the confidence deep inside themselves, but they’re also teaching them to subvert the uber-macho culture that’s present in our society. They’re challenging the toxic masculinity that is forced upon men, one makeover at a time.

In the end, the show still offers what most people came for: cute guys, makeovers, and home decor. Best of all, there’s plenty of gay wit to keep us laughing, almost entirely from Jonathan (“Baby Bobbers is struggs to func.” That’s “Bobby is struggling to function” for those not down with the lingo). Mixed in with the haircuts and slang, though, is a huge heart that makes the show so, so special.

If you’re already craving new episodes, you’re not alone. Even though Netflix has yet to confirm a season two, David Collins, the man behind the original Queer Eye and the reboot, told IndieWire he’s already thinking of new episodes.

Maybe they’ll even head to the Midwest this time around.