Netflix scored a hit with “Queer Eye,” a reboot of the American reality television series, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” aired on the Bravo network from 2003 to 2007. It adapted well to the new era without losing the charm, magic and flair of the original, as it featured a new Fab Five bringing forth positivity and creating a better version of the individuals they meet. The show was well-received by viewers, with mostly favorable reviews from critics since it premiered in 2018, and earned Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Structured Reality Program, and Outstanding Casting for a Reality Program.
- 1 The Show
- 2 Searching for the new Fab Five
- 3 The New Fab Five
- 3.1 Jonathan McDonald Van Ness – Grooming extraordinaire
- 3.2 Karame Karega Brown – Culture and Lifestyle extraordinaire
- 3.3 Bobby James Berk – Design extraordinaire
- 3.4 Tanveer Wasim “Tan” France – Fashion extraordinaire
- 3.5 Antoni Janusz Porowski – Food and Wine extraordinaire
- 3.6 The Heroes: Where they are now
- 3.7 First episode: Tom – “You Can’t Fix Ugly”
- 3.8 AJ – “To Gay or Not Too Gay”
- 3.9 Skyler – “Sky’s the Limit”
- 3.10 Tammye – “God Bless Gay”
The series ran for five seasons from 2018 through 2021, with special episodes that featured clients in Japan. The first two seasons were filmed in Georgia, and then in Missouri and Pennsylvania for the rest of the seasons.
Can you belieeeeveeee? 6 Emmy nominations! Thank you to the @televisionacad for this honor 💝🌈🏆
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, filming for season six was halted, so their schedule of airing two seasons per year didn’t push through in 2020. Filming was resumed in April 2021, in Texas.
According to one of the Fab Five, while the original series was fighting for tolerance, the revival was fighting for acceptance,. The format is basically the same, with five gay men in a car on their way to their clients, discussing how they were going to help improve their lives. However, this time around, their clients were not limited to heterosexual men, as they helped all kinds of people, regardless of gender, color, religion, and political or economic background. The show was not just about doing a makeover of a place or changing styles, but also instilling confidence and making people feel better about themselves, so that they could get out of the rut they were in, and reach for what they wanted out of life.
In the process of doing all this, they tackled issues that people were dealing with from day to day, making it relevant to most viewers, and giving them hope. At the very least, the show offered a moment of relief from what was happening in their lives or around them.
Searching for the new Fab Five
For “Queer Eye,” the secret in making it a phenomenal success as with the 2003 show was in the casting. Carson Kressley (Fashion Savant), Jai Rodriguez (Culture Vulture), Kyan Douglas (Grooming Guru), Thom Filicia (Design Doctor), and Ted Allen (Food and Wine Connoisseur) as the Fab Five were a tough act to follow. As early as 2016, Danielle Gervais of ITV America and Gretchen Palek of Leftfield Pictures started searching globally for five men who were masters of their craft. The finalists, 25 men for each area of expertise, were sequestered at an hotel where they went through improv sessions and interviews with people from Scout Productions, ITV America, and Netflix.
Let’s try this again y’all! 💫 We’re SO EXCITED to step our cowboy boots back in Austin to film Queer Eye: Texas! 🌵 Can’t wait to bring more smiles (and tears) to your faces! 🌈💖✨ pic.twitter.com/f7rQihiYcV
— Queer Eye (@QueerEye) April 23, 2021
Five guys were grouped together for fishbowl questions to see ‘who looked great together, but also who allowed others to talk, and of course, who just got along.’
As they finally found the five relatively unknown individuals who met their qualifications, they were put on a final test run in which they had to transform a person and a home without knowing anything in advance, letting them do what they do best. They pulled it off, and the rest is history.
The New Fab Five
Jonathan McDonald Van Ness – Grooming extraordinaire
Jonathan was born in 1987, and has been openly gay all his life. He’s a professional hairstylist who starred in the Funny or Die series’ “Gay of Thrones” from 2013, in which he played the role of a stylist doing a recap of the recent episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Short Form Variety Series. His podcast is called “Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness.”
He launched his own hair care line called JVN Hair. In his Instagram post in December 2020, he shared that he married his best friend, Mark Peacock.
Karame Karega Brown – Culture and Lifestyle extraordinaire
Karamo was born in 1980 in Houston, Texas. He came out when he was 16, and in 2004 became the first openly gay black man in a reality show when he was cast in MTV’s “The Real World: Philadelphia.” After that, he worked for 12 years as a licensed social worker. In 2007, he discovered that he fathered a child when he was 15 with his high school girlfriend, and gained custody of his son named Jason and then in 2010, he adopted Chris, Jason’s half-brother. He and his ex-fiancé, Ian Jordan, went their separate ways in 2020, after being together for a decade.
Bobby James Berk – Design extraordinaire
Bobby was born in 1981 – he left home when he was 15, had no formal training, but worked his way up to become the creative director of a luxury home furnishing business.
In 2006, he launched the Bobby Berk Home online store, and later on a specialty interior design service called the Bobby Berk Interiors + Design. Bobby also has his own furniture line for A.R.T. Furniture. He and his boyfriend Dewey, a maxillofacial surgeon, were married in 2012 as soon as it became legal to do so.
Tanveer Wasim “Tan” France – Fashion extraordinaire
Tan was born in 1983 in South Yorkshire, England, and studied fashion at Doncaster College. He has worked in the US since 2008. After being employed by various brands and retailers as company director and/or designer, he established his own fashion company called Kingdom & State in 2011, and then launched a couple of apparel brands. He retired after selling his company, with plans to have a family with his husband, Rob, whom he married in 2007. His son, Ismail France, was born in July 2021 via surrogacy. His memoir entitled “Naturally Tan” published in 2019, became a New York Times bestseller.
Tan was the first out gay Muslim, and one of the first South Asian men on TV who’s openly gay.
Antoni Janusz Porowski – Food and Wine extraordinaire
Antoni was born in 1984 in Montreal, Quebec. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Concordia University, but had no formal culinary training being was self-taught, but worked as a sommelier at a restaurant, and became the personal chef and assistant of Ted Allen, later opening a restaurant called The Village Den in New York City. In 2019, he released his cookbook “Antoni in the Kitchen,” which he called his culinary memoir, which established him as a New York Times bestselling author. In 2021, he released another the book “Let’s Do Dinner”, featuring simple recipes for his favorite meal of the day, and including personal anecdotes.
He’s in a relationship with Kevin Harrington, a strategic planner based in New York. People assumed he’s gay, but the closest description or label he has for himself was queer and fluid; he’s been with more women than men. People Magazine declared the John Mayer-lookalike as the Sexiest Reality Star in 2019.
The Heroes: Where they are now
In “Queer Eye,” the Fab Five called the people they helped “heroes.” The first episode set the tone for the rest of the series, and the viewers loved it. Here are some of the heroes they helped and how the show changed their lives for the better:
First episode: Tom – “You Can’t Fix Ugly”
In Dallas, Georgia, 57-year-old Tom has been living each day doing most of the same thing – getting up, going to work, and then home to his basement apartment where he would fix himself a redneck margarita and watch TV. His style of wearing jorts (jean shorts), had been the same for 27 years.
He believed that he’s unlucky in love, being divorced three times because he’s ‘butt ugly’ and even said that the guys could make him look better, but that ‘you can’t fix ugly.’ It was his daughter, Katie, who ‘nominated’ her father for the make-over.
The Fab Five went to his place and got to know him better, so that they could figure out how to help him. After that, they created a great space for him to entertain people, including his lady friend, gave him a new look, and made him change the way he looked at himself. The Fab Five left and went back to their office where they watched how the new Tom took Abby Parr out on a date to a car show, and then to his place where they enjoyed a light snack.
Abby was Tom’s third ex-wife, and they still see each other from time to time. He shared that the love was still there on both sides, and Abby told him that he’s the best man she had ever been with; he didn’t disclose what went wrong between them. Based on his Twitter posts after the show’s premiere, he and Abby were no longer together, but later reconciled.
Things seemed to be going great for the couple, as they tied the knot at a private ceremony in March 2018 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. ‘The best part of the day was during the ceremony as we stood before the minister, both of us excited and happy to be recommitting ourselves to each other in marriage,’ he posted on Twitter. However, the two divorced again, finalized in September 2019.
AJ – “To Gay or Not Too Gay”
In Atlanta, Georgia, 32-year-old Anthony “AJ” Brown, who worked as a civil engineer, was nominated for the makeover by his best friend, Al, as he lived in a man cave and his style was conservative and masculine. He was uncomfortable showing off his good physique, as he associated it with gay people who were focused on looks. AJ said he was a different person at work, around his family, with friends, and when he’s alone. He has a long-time boyfriend named Andre, unknown to most as he’s not openly gay.
His biggest regret was not coming out when his father was still alive, so he planned to reveal his true self to his stepmother, and the Fab Five came to help him out.
After spending time with the Fab Five, he was transformed not just on the outside, but also on the inside. He said hearing their stories of coming out made him believe that he would survive his’ as well. It gave him the courage he needed to tell his stepmom about being gay, at the cocktail party at his place, where he also invited Andre and their close friends. In his room, she listened to him read his letter to his dad in which he said, ‘If what people say is true that our loved ones really do look down on us from heaven…then you also know that I’m gay.’ His stepmom assured him that he wouldn’t lose her, and that she’d always be there for him. AJ was finally able to enjoy his relationship with Andre in the open, and at Netflix’s FYSee event in June 2018, he revealed that he and Andre were married.
Skyler – “Sky’s the Limit”
Skyler Jay is a 30-year-old transman from Athens, Georgia, who had undergone top surgery, which means her breasts were removed to have a masculine chest, six weeks prior to meeting the Fab Five. He said he was born a female, but realized early on that he’s different on the inside, so he was miserable in his body which affected his interactions with other people. His family didn’t understand, and even said that ‘I’m insane for thinking I could ever be a man.’ As a result, he made the painful decision to cut ties with his parents, and left home at 17.
It was one of his roommates, Katie, who nominated him for the makeover. In this new chapter of his life, the Fab Five came to help him ‘become the man he was born to be.’ He said that he had a Peter Pan syndrome, and it showed in the interior design of his place and his manner of dressing.
The Fab Five redecorated his apartment to make it more suitable for a young man, got him the suit that he had always wanted to have, and a more fitting wardrobe for work and play, then accompanied him in getting his new license with a male marker. Todrick Hall made a surprise visit to Skyler, who was so happy to see the YouTube star as he’d been such an inspiration to Skyler in his transition, as he learned to embrace both his masculine and feminine side.
Skyler went back to school, and finished his undergraduate studies in December 2018. He worked at the University System of Georgia (USG) Athens campus as a catering manager, and filed a lawsuit against his employer for not covering trans-related health expenses including affirmation surgery, in his health care plan. The insurance company wasn’t liable as they could only enforce the policy that was chosen by his employer.
Join us on Saturday night to welcome Skyler Jay guest on Queer Eye. Free and open to all
As of September 2019, the policy was overturned, providing trans-inclusive health coverage for the 60,000 employees of the 26 public colleges.
Tammye – “God Bless Gay”
Tammye Hicks – fondly called Mama Tammye – from Gay, Georgia was the first woman to received a makeover from the Fab Five. She was nominated by her friend Gene, who said ‘If the world was full of Ms. Tammye, we wouldn’t have all the problems we have, that’s for sure.’ She’s a schoolteacher, who visited sick children and ushered people in at church which her grandmother had co-founded around 50 years previously.
They had an annual homecoming service coming up, and she wanted help from the Fab Five to put the finishing touches to their community center where it was going to be held. It was the first time her mom wouldn’t be able to attend, as she succumbed to cancer, so she’s emotional about this; Tammy herself was also diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.
She’s married with three children, and her 22-year-old son Myles, moved back home from Atlanta and wasn’t keen on attending church or the homecoming, as he felt he wasn’t welcome after he came out as gay. He ended up going with his family, as he was assured of their love. The Fab Five designed the interior of the community center, and did a makeover of her bathroom. They also styled her and her children for church and the event.
Tammy said that she wasn’t the only one who transformed, but also her family and the community after the Fab Five visited them. ‘I’m living my best life,’ she said. The center had become a place where people loved to gather, and it also became a venue for the “Queer Eye” heroes’ get-together in September 2018.
“Queer Eye” is more than a makeover show, as it’s renewed the spirits of the people they meet, with the Fab Five teaching self-love and instilling self-worth to those who had forgotten, or didn’t know-how.