The Fab Five are returning to Netflix, and you better BYO tissues.
There is a reason why Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye makes people sob into their smartphones when they watch it.
It’s not that the original Queer Eye wasn’t uplifting and emotional, because it was in its own way. But Netflix’s reboot has had a subtle update in tone that makes a material difference to how it unfolds, episode to episode. Now, the message of Queer Eye isn’t ‘we can fix you’. It’s ‘you can fix yourself.’
You see this in every episode of the first two seasons of the series, which feature Antoni, Karamo, Tan, Jonathan and Bobby helping each of their heroes reclaim ownership over their lives in a myriad of subtle and significant ways. It can be something as simple as learning how to care for your facial hair to something as important as understanding how to be vulnerable, how to talk about loneliness, how to open up to the world, how to ask for forgiveness.
Yes, the easily digestible tips on how to do a french tuck, or why Greek yoghurt works so well in guacamole, or how a vertical blind will transform a room are all there, if that’s your thing. But Netflix’s new Fab Five is concerned with more than just surface-level aesthetic change. They want to improve people’s lives. And they know that in order to really do that, each of their subject’s needs to make the change themselves. The power is theirs.
This is why the series is so emotional. And if the first trailer for the third series, streaming on Netflix from 15 March, there’ll be plenty more tears to come.
Each of the heroes featuring in the next season come with their own set of baggage. There’s the black lesbian teenager who doesn’t believe that she is worthy of love. There’s the man wrestling with alcohol dependence. There’s the woman whose brother died tragically in a car crash.
They’re all struggling with who they are and how to take care of themselves in the wake of change and trauma. Which is the perfect moment for the Fab Five to enter from stage left, each of them imbued with the very specific gift of finding the crack in every person and showing how the light gets in. Even aside from their skills in home renovation, fashion, grooming and food, the real talent of these men is their capacity for love and to spread that love around the world.
“Sometimes you just need a little support,” Karamo says in the trailer. “You go out there and find your chosen family,” Bobby adds.
In the most powerful scene from the first trailer, Karamo sits cross legged on the floor with Jess, the lesbian teenager. “You are a strong, black, lesbian woman,” Karamo tells her, wiping tears from her face. “Thank you,” Jess responds. It only lasts for a few seconds. But it’s such an intimate, emotionally-charged moment, with such a powerful message of love and self-worth, that it immediately moved me to tears at my desk.
Makeover shows have, in the past, been built upon the foundational stone of telling its participants that they need to do better and be better, that they are in desperate, drastic need of change.
Queer Eye doesn’t do that. What Queer Eye does is something much more important: they remind everyone that it’s OK to ask for help when you need it. And that, when you do, there will be people in your life who are there to support you every step of the way.
Queer Eye season 3 is streaming on Netflix from 15 March.