Queer Eye For The Straight Guy, the mid-2000s US reality series that unleashed five fabulous gay men on one straight schlub to reinvent him, has been rebooted by Netflix, but with a thoroughly modern twist.
Replete with a brand new “fab five”, a shorter title (now simply Queer Eye) and a remixed theme song, the TV icon is back, this time barracking for queer culture in Donald Trump’s America.
The rebooted series introduces five new hosts: Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert; Tan France, fashion expert; Karamo Brown, culture expert; Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert; and Bobby Berk, design expert.
It has enjoyed a wave of critical praise since it premiered on Netflix last week.
The Guardian’s Rebecca Nicholson praised Queer Eye as a “new kind of makeover show” which, “in its most moving moments, enables men to talk to each other in a way they claim they have been unable to do before”.
“There’s something cathartic about its Purple America spirit,” The New York Times’ James Poniewozik says, “and damned if it doesn’t do the job and generate tears, most of them happy.”
Here’s a list of the show’s most talked-about makeovers.
One of the most affecting makeovers tackles Indian-American Neal’s crippling issues with intimacy, which have left him hiding alone in his house – and behind a mammoth beard.
After a session in the boxing ring with Brown and Porowski, during which Neal appears to open up rapidly, Porowksi exclaims, “The amount of time you just spent actually looking [Brown] in the eye is more than I’ve seen you engage in eye contact during the duration of us being together.’
And when Van Ness whisks Neal away to have his hair and beard trimmed, the stunning result prompts Neal to wrap Van Ness in for a bear hug.
In episode four, closeted gay man AJ is made over by the gang less as an exercise in styling, and more as a confidence booster to allow him to come out to his stepmother.
With help from Brown, style guru France and the gentle encouragement of food expert Porowski, AJ tidies up his image, opens up to his partner and comes out to his stepmother.
In episode five, the gang travels to a chaotic family home to meet Bobby Camp, a good-natured religious man and father of six children.
Together with Brown, Berk helps Camp reorganize his family life to take some pressure off him and his wife, teaching his children how to take responsibility and help more around the house.
Perhaps one of the gang’s toughest challenges is 30-something comedian Joe, who has just lost over 100 pounds and is still living at home with his parents.
After a grooming, style and confidence makeover from France, Van Ness and Brown – and a surprise photo shoot to create new professional head shots for his burgeoning comedy business – Joe begins to come out of his shell.
The change not just in Joe’s looks but in his confidence and ability to entertain onstage is staggering.
Then there’s 57-year-old recluse Tom, who drinks ‘Red-Neck Margaritas’ (tequila and Mountain Dew) and insists straight to camera he is ‘ugly’.
He’s given a dapper makeover, his brilliant baby blues finally visible through what was once a bramble of silvery beard.
“For the first few days you kept saying you can’t fix ugly, and it broke my heart,” says Karamo. “We have fallen in love with you, and I didn’t really expect to have this moment with you. And you are such an amazing man.”
The gang is crying; Tom is crying. And you’re crying, too.