Ten years. It's been ten long years since the Fab Five drove off for the last time. And what a time it was. (We're talking about a world where there was only ONE Real Housewives series on TV!)
Flashforward to 2018, Queer Eye Season 1 is back to fix lives yet again. But this time, it's an 8-episode series on Netflix that will leave you wanting more.
The original series on Bravo followed the concept of five gay men helping to redesign and fix someone's life. Nothing was off the table for this life improvement series. It was a full scope task that connected with the men's talents.
From fashion to grooming to knowledge of culture, the men would drive in and impart their expertise to a person in need.
The same core design of Queer Eye extended itself to the reboot as well. Nothing had vastly changed, except that the men spent more time with their clients. And based on the impact of Queer Eye Season 1, the extra time made a HUGE difference!
As mentioned above, it had been ten years since the successful series ended. The last thing anyone would need is a carbon copy of the original. Luckily learnings were taken and applied to Queer Eye Season 1 that changed things up for the better.
One of them being the extra time with the Fab Five and the individual man. The longer week meant more time to impact their lives.
Bobby: We are about to pull in. What’s our mission today with Tom?
Jonathan: We’re gonna dust off these Christmas ghosts’ pasts of these relationships, we’re gonna sort out his closet, we’re gonna get him cuter, we’re gonna get him looking good, we’re gonna get the house fixed up. We’re ready! We cannot wait. Am I right?
When it came to the reboot, the Fab 5 brought back the same specialties but with a new crop of men. You had design expert Bobby, fashion expert Tan, grooming expert Jonathan, food expert Antoni, and the culture expert Karamo.
Some of these faces shouldn't be new to the casual observer.
Karamo is a longstanding reality TV veteran, with appearances on The Real World Season 15 (Philadelphia) and Are You The One: Second Chances. Jonathan is also well-known for his online videos, Gay of Thrones.
Regardless of their past TV work, the Fab Five knew their stuff. In this genre of reality TV, expertise is somewhat questionable in makeover programs like these. However, the Fab Five team quickly quashed any doubt that they wouldn't be able to help.
Starting right with Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 1, the team knew how best to impact Tom's life and his health.
Similar to the other men of Queer Eye Season 1, he got a MAJOR redesign of his home space, which looked incredible at the end of the week. He got a new wardrobe, tips on cooking, and information about his grooming techniques that were sorely needed.
Jonathan's grooming facts about sun care and lupus were eye-opening to hear. Tom probably never gave it a second thought before being told firsthand how the lack of treatment affected him. And, by treating it, it helped him in his greater overall issue of low self-confidence.
It was heartwarming to see his outlook change in "You Can't Fix Ugly." He went from calling himself ugly to finally having the confidence to asking the love of his life out. Tom seemed very happy; it was the perfect hour to start off Queer Eye Season 1.
Jonathan: I notice a little bit of dryness on your cheek.
Tom: That’s my Lupus.
Jonathan: Okay, let’s talk about that a little. One thing I know about Lupus is that it’s all about SPF. Like, we have to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays because sun actually can cause inflammation and flare ups for people with Lupus.
[Cut to Jonathan’s confessional]
Jonathan: How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you, and he’s not taking care of himself.
Tom's lack of confidence was a common theme found in the men who got help from the Fab Five. One way or another, the eight men needed a boost of confidence that could change their outlook on life. Suffice it to say, the Fab Five was there to fix it...and it worked.
Regardless of lousy home style or grooming, the personal effect left on the eight men by the Fab Five is where Queer Eye Season 1 shines.
There was a genuine change in the men after their week with the team. As opposed to a "reality TV success story" trope, the eight men walked away with the confidence to live their life differently after having developed friendships and learning lessons with the Fab Five. And as viewers watching it from the outside, it didn't look forced upon or heavily edited.
A real impact occurred. Someone's life was changed for the better...and that's a great story to watch after some of the news surprises in 2017 and 2018 so far.
Out of the eight hours that made up Queer Eye Season 1, each episode was a must-watch. Sure, you could skip entries as they are standalone individual stories. But, why would you want to?
Each of the Fab Five had different experiences and interactions with the men they helped on the series. Some connected deeper than others with their mission of the week, and in some cases, they made a bigger impact on both the man and their own life.
One of the highlights was Karamo having the serious conversation with Cory, the police officer on Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 3.
"Dega Don't" started with a prank made by Cory's sponsor, another police officer who pulled over the Fab Five's car while Karamo was driving. News reports of police officers shooting drivers who were people of color came to mind when this scene was occurring. It was the story and edit portrayed before being revealed as a prank.
The resulting conversation later on in Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 3 between Karamo and Cory might be Queer Eye's most real moment. Nothing about their honest conversation felt forced or brought on for cameras.
The pair opened up to each other, and at that moment, it was a scene that any reality TV fan would love: A real moment between two individuals from different walks of life coming together.
You know, I got to tell you, yesterday when we went to your house, and when they started planning your car, I was totally shut off. The perception right now, especially between Black people and cops, is...it’s tension. When Henry pulled us over, I immediately started freaking out. I really thought that, you know, this was gonna be that incident where I was gonna be dragged out of the car. My kid did not want to get his license because he was scared he was going to get pulled over and shot by a cop.Karamo
However, if you're looking for a few other standpoints from the 8-episode season, pay close attention to Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 2, Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 4, and Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 7.
The Fab Five shined in their confidence training here. You could see the significant impact left on the men by the end of the hour. And, in one instance, one of the most drastic makeovers that Jonathan had to tackle.
You would think I'm merely exaggerating here, but I'm not. The reveal of Neal's makeover is one for the reality TV books.
While Queer Eye Season 1 did have an overall stellar first entry, that's not to say it didn't still suffer from the same setbacks like its predecessor. The issue of utilizing all five defined specialties by the Fab Five reared its ugly head in some instances.
Don't get me wrong; all five roles are essential to making the makeover work. The formula perfectly captures what needs to be improved, and the group's personalities complement each other for a great experience. However, there were points where the "teaching" felt like it was forced upon or simply filler time.
For example, Antoni's role as food expert worked best when he was able to go in to completely clean up the food and eating habits (as well as the kitchen space) of the man/family. He taught us all about foods to watch and how to improve cooking.
The downside of this was the forced cooking segments.
Teaching how to make trendy and delicious appetizers (as opposed to meals), while fun, in theory, doesn't have the same impact or appreciation as getting a new makeover or a new space. Not every one of the men seemed that interested to cook something.
Karamo's involvement also suffered in that regard.
He offered lots of personality and great moments with the makeovers. However, when he wasn't the one getting the person out of their shell, his impact felt limited in comparison to the others.
While watching Queer Eye Season 1, there will be moments when you will tear up...and possibly even cry.
It won't be in the cliche reality TV way where a small update will have drastically "changed" those going through a makeover. You will see the effects made on the person and their families that will bring out the tears.
For example, I bawled when Cory's wife and mother both started crying in Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 3. I could feel their happiness, and the tears wouldn't stop. (The grandmother crying over the quilt got me right away.)
Queer Eye's genuine emotion will cut right to the heart. Even with the campiness and gimmick that brought everyone together, Queer Eye was still grounded in its central message of acceptance and life makeover.
At the beginning of Queer Eye Season 1 Episode 1, before the Fab Five drove off for their first mission, the men talked about their hopes and goals for restarting the series.
They pitched the importance of finding acceptance and highlighting the connections/similarities between those being made over and the team, as well as with everyone on the grander scale in real life. The Fab Five succeeded in this regard.
Throughout its eight-episode run, the team found common ground. They connected with everyone they interacted with on a genuine level more than a superficial reality TV state. It gave hope and held a positive note we haven't seen in a while.
And, after we all experienced a heated 2017 that promoted division, watching a TV series that focused on the complete opposite was a breath of fresh air.
Queer Eye Season 1 was a delight, and the biggest downside was that it was JUST eight episodes. We need Queer Eye in our lives. Bring on more episodes for Queer Eye Season 2!
Jonathan: All the issues you had, the biggest one that you had was your lack of self-love and your self-care.
Bobby: But you’re an amazing father. You are an attentive, sweet kind husband. You really are, you’ve shown us that this week. You deserve all those things right back.
Bobby C: I know that this stuff is still there; that the stuff that makes life too much...is still there. But I’m not afraid of it. I didn’t know what to expect from you guys being here this week. I knew that people were going to invade our lives. One of the things that we prayed about, we said, “We want to use this opportunity to open up our lives to other people. We want you guys to come to our house and felt love and accepted.”
[Antoni wipes away tears]
Bobby C: Growing up the way we did, homosexuals were not accepted, and they still aren’t in a lot of church environments. But in the Camp family, they are. In our hearts, they are. And we want you guys to know that you were loved here. And you’ve taught me so much about loving somebody that’s come from a different background than me, that has a different world view than me, that has a different story. But you’re people and hopefully my kids have seen it...that we’re all people.
[Wiping away tears]
Jonathan: Cool, thanks for making me cry on camera. That’s pretty cool.
[They all laugh]
What did you think of Queer Eye Season 1? Which area would you have liked the Fab Five to fix in your life? Would you watch a second season?
Queer Eye Season 1 is now available to stream on Netflix.
Justin Carreiro is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.