I can actually tell you about the first time I watched Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. It was the fall of 2003 after I had just gotten married (yeah, sorry, that’s a story for a very different kind of website, after imbibing a few cocktails). I had cable, for basically the first time in my life, and we were at about season 5 (the Harry Connick Jr years) of Will & Grace. Being gay in pop culture was JUST becoming something to embrace and appreciate and own. And Queer Eye was big. Of course, I checked it out. Believe it or not, the show was genuinely groundbreaking, because in 2003 being openly gay on national TV was a big fucking deal.
Fast forward 15 years later and we are lucky enough to have Queer Eye, a Netflix reboot with the motto “More than a makeover.” And this Fab 5 are fierce AF.
If you haven’t watched Queer Eye, it’s a makeover show where five gay men go and advise straight men in all aspects of their life. The opening sequence of the first episode is, no joke, probably the best first three minutes of a TV show in history, as each member of the Fab 5 answers questions and introduces their mission. “The original show was fighting for tolerance; our fight is for acceptance,” says Tan (Fashion). “My goal is to figure out how we’re similar as opposed to how different we are,” says Antoni (Food). This cuts directly into the opening credits which are just so fun — you really get to know these guys personalities as they dance and goof around on camera and by now you’re already on board with the show and trying to figure out how to Twitter stalk them and somehow become BFFs. It’s light and fun and clean and crisp and perfect.
I should also mention, one awesome part of the reboot is that they’re making over men from rural Atlanta, GA, as opposed to NYC — which really informs their interactions in a completely different way from the OG.
Put simply, season 1 of Queer Eye offers 8 episodes of pure delight, fun, and acceptance — it’s the world I want to live in embodied on TV. Here are some stand-out moments I absolutely want to revisit.
*CONFESSION: I’ve already obsessively binge-watched the new season, which began June 15th, so watch for my forthcoming season 2 recap!
Most Horrifying “Before” Straight Guy: This was pretty easy — it’s obviously Straight Guy #1: Tom. Tom is 57, lives in a basement apartment, has furniture covered in stains that we almost HOPE are urine, hand towels by the bed and (still never explained) tongs in the bedroom. Antoni actually SMELLED one of his chairs – literally the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen, and I’ll never get over the look on his face that expressed exactly how foul that was. And Tom? Not really a prince either, at least not on the surface; his wardrobe, his grooming, and his life were just as much of a mess as his bedroom. He kept saying, “You can’t fix ugly,” but he was 100% the Frog Prince — never ugly; he’s actually a beautiful soul and the Fab 5 saw that from moment one. They saw who he really was, helped him tap into that and NOW? Now he’s engaged to the love of his life, Abby, something that probably wouldn’t have happened without a little intervention.
*Honorable Mention* I’m going with Remington, the grown-ass man who lives in his grandmother’s old home that was last decorated in the 70’s… It was simultaneously the most amazing AND appalling home decor I have seen in my life. His look was pretty much gym rat (shiny workout shorts and tanks/tees at all times) and he only “cooks” by blending things. No bueno, but at least it was hygienic. I think Karamo asking, “Why is there a ceramic cat under a grown man’s bed?” best sums up where we were with Remy.
All The Feels: This was maybe the hardest decision of this whole post. This series had me ugly crying while laughing at so many different points throughout the episodes. As much as I love the original Fab 5, this new posse cranks up the love and emotions to a degree I’m still not sure I’m mature enough to legally handle. But, at the end of the day, the winner of the “All the Feels” award goes to episode 5 where they help Bobby give his beloved wife a reception do-over with their 6 children and church community on hand. Bobby is an incredibly religious, faithful man and the Fab 5 was understandably wary of his perception of homosexuality, but he surprised EVERYONE with this beautiful speech:
“I didn’t know what to expect from you guys being here this week. I knew that people were going to invade our lives. We said, ‘We want to use this as an opportunity to open up our lives to other people. We want you guys to have come to our house and have felt loved and accepted’… growing up the way we did, homosexuals weren’t 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 are loved here, and you’ve taught me so much about loving someone who comes from a different background from me… but we’re all people. And hopefully, my kids have seen that you’re people.”
*Honorable Mention* The Black Lives Matter/Blue Lives Matter conversation between Karamo and Terry. It was beautiful in that they were sincerely trying to speak and listen to each other and learn from each other and my heart needed that. Badly.
Best One-Liner (not Jonathan): “Mattresses aren’t the best thing to buy used.” – Bobby Berk
This feels like one of those universal truths that needs no further explanation.
Most Surprising Moment: I’m just going to use this meme, it will sum it all up for you.
Best Summation Line: “We need to get some sass in that Sasquatch” -JVN
Best Jonathan Van Ness Lines: Another insanely difficult category to choose just one winner. There were so many major contenders. I’ll be totally honest, choosing was absolutely impossible, so just bask in the awesome that is all three of these lines.
“Do you have any questions about, like, your skin or your hair or your buttcrack…?” (Also wins “Question I will LITERALLY never ask anyone” category)
“Ulysses S. Grant? YAS QUEEN! I was literally trying to channel him, but if he was alive in 2017 with all sorts of fly style!”
“All failed relationships of mine have been 100% the other person’s fault.”
Most Inspiring Line: “It doesn’t matter if we’re gay or straight, the common thread that holds everyone together is that we just want to be loved.” -Bobby Berk
Most Poignant, Necessary Moment: This show has made sure every episode is socially responsible and adds to the zeitgeist/conversations. However, I think the conversation with the cop and Karamo is what made me understand this show is beyond genius and amazing. So, I submit this as the greatest lesson of season 1 – “It does go both ways. Black Lives Matter, they weren’t able to be heard… and the police officers weren’t able to be heard. If they could sit down and have a conversation like me and you just did, we’d be a lot better in society. Everyone wants to talk, but nobody wants to listen.”
If you need a cup of chicken soup for your heart and for your soul, if you need five new best friends in your life to both inspire you and make you laugh, check out Queer Eye RIGHT THIS SECOND. Trust me, you need it.
What moments would you guys put in these categories? Let us know in the comments below.