I have been a Queer Eye fan since the show first debuted on Bravo in July 2003. I was immediately enamored with the original Fab Five - Carson Kresley, Ted Allen (who I still love on Chopped), Thom Filicia, Kyan Douglas and Jai Rodriguez. When I learned Netflix was rebooting the series, I have to admit, I was skeptical. How could it possibly get better than the original guys?
The first season of Queer Eye on Netflix premiered in February 2018 and the world was introduced to the new Fab Five: Karamo Brown (culture), Tan France (fashion), Bobby Berk (design), Jonathan Van Ness (grooming) and Antoni Porowski (food and wine).
The first episode of the initial season was called "You Can't Fix Ugly" and it featured a divorcé named Tom. The guys helped Tom come out of his shell, rediscover his confidence, and invite his ex-wife to reconnect. By the end of that hour, America was madly in love with the new Fab Five.
I flew through season one (like everyone else) and began the process of anxiously awaiting season two. In fact, my friends and I were all so into the show, months before it would return, we resolved to gather for a viewing party on the very first night the new episodes were available.
When I learned season three would hit Netflix on March 15, I marked it on all my calendars - laptop, phone, paper datebook. There was no way I was missing the chance to reunite with the boys!
I watched all eight episodes in one weekend. #NoShame. I'm going to share my thoughts in two parts: first, a quick note on each of the guys, and second, commentary on the new episodes.
- Karamo - Karamo has been my favorite since season one. He finds ways to connect with people of all walks of life, and does so in a warm, sincere way. He's very open about his own life experiences, and never hesitates to share personal stories if he thinks it might help the person feel less alone. In season three, Karamo is wearing less bomber jackets.
- Tan - I find Tan's hair fascinating. We he does his solo interviews, it's the only thing I look at. I love the way he gets people to see that caring about what clothes you wear isn't narcissistic, it's respecting yourself enough to put your best foot forward. When Tan dresses someone, they immediately look 10 pounds lighter and 10 years younger. This season, Tan is wearing a lot of monochromatic outfits (pretty sure they are Yeezy) which makes you wonder, "How can he be so great at styling others when this is what he chooses for himself?"
- Bobby - I have to admit, in seasons one and two, Bobby was kind of a sleeper for me. This installment, he is the star. He transforms some tragic spaces into palatial digs. If you don't follow Bobby on Instagram, @bobbyberk, remedy that immediately. He shares tons of behind-the-scenes scoop, including how he actually pulls off these makeovers.
- Jonathan - Where to begin? Jonathan is, shall we say, a little much. I know he is many people's favorite of the Fab Five, but I find him so over the top that it's almost satirical. This season he opens up about losing his step-father, and it was the most real I have seen him.
- Antoni - In the words of that famous British game show hostess, "You are the weakest link." Antoni is supposed to be the food and wine expert, but last season he made things like hummus and seasoned peanuts. Even I can do that! He does up his game in season three, but I still find him a total snooze.
Ok, now onto the episodes!
*SPOILER ALERT! If you do not want to know anything about season three, stop reading right now.*
- Episode 1, From Hunter to Huntee - 15 minutes into this episode I knew exactly why the show runners decided to make it the first of the season. It is so good! Jody is nominated by her husband, Chris. He thinks Jody is gorgeous, but feels she's lost confidence in herself over the past few years. Between Tan and Jonathan, Jody goes from wearing a tight bun and oversized camo gear, to looking like a super model. The transformation is dramatic. When Jody's family is invited over to see her new look, her mother says, "It looks like you found your joy again." Cue the tears!
- Episode 2, Lost Boy - When the Fab Five meet Joey, a summer camp program director, he looks like he hasn't showered in years. His hair is overgrown, his beard is scraggily, and his posture is completely hunched. As the episode goes on, we learn that Joey suffered tremendously after his divorce, struggled with alcohol abuse, and was even living in his car at one point. The guys help him shed that baggage and find a new lease on life. Side note: despite looking like he lived under a bridge, Joey still managed to have a girlfriend.
- Episode 3, Jones Bar-B-Q - This may be my favorite episode of the season. Izora nominated her mother Deborah and her aunt Mary, who run Jones Bar-B-Q. The shop used to be their father's, and they carry on his pitmaster legacy. The guys help the sisters revamp the restaurant, bottle their BBQ sauce, and see the value of taking a little time to care for themselves. In one scene, the guys accompany Mary to a cosmetic dentist to help repair a tooth she'd been missing for most of her life. When they reveal her new smile, she bursts into tears (and I did too!).
- Episode 4, When Robert Met Jamie - The Jones sisters are a tough act to follow. In episode four we meet Robert, who is days away from marrying his long-time girlfriend, and mother of this two children, Jamie. Robert has zero self-esteem and that has bled into all aspects of his life. In one particularly painful scene, Karamo plays back for him all the negative, self-deprecating things he said about himself the first day the Fab Five arrived. The major highlight of this episode is Bobby's amazing transformation of the family's living room.
- Episode 5, Black Girl Magic - Oh lordy, I did a lot of crying in this episode. After coming out to her family, Jess is exiled. Outcast, hurt and alone, she builds a family of her own, made up of loving, supportive friends. On day one, Jess forms a bond with Bobby, who shares that he too was rejected by his religious family, resulting in him moving out at 15 years old. At the very end of the episode, when Jess is saying goodbye to the guys, she admits to Karamo that he is a role model for her, and she was actually scared to meet him, worried that he might not like her, and when she felt his warmth and openness, it meant to the world to her. Crying again! Also, major props to Bobby on the re-do of Jess' apartment, which now looks like a West Elm dream.
- Episode 6, Elrod & Sons - Thought you were done crying? Nope! Keep the tissues close by for this one. In episode six we meet Rob, who recently lost his wife, Allison. He was nominated by his wife's best friend, Sawnsai. Rob is now raising his two very young sons, Davis and Vincent, by himself. The guys come in a week before Rob and the boys are set to move into a house in a neighborhood Allison always dreamed of. There are so many poignant moments in this episode, but the one that left me sobbing was when Bobby had a custom chest built to store all the memories of Allison, and inside the wooden chest, he had a sentence engraved in Allison's handwriting.
- Episode 7, Sloth to Slay - In this episode, Krissy nominates her younger brother Thomas, who is about to turn 21. Since their mother passed away 10 years ago, Thomas has been very reclusive. Krissy wants the Fab Five to help him leave the video games behind and rejoin the outside world. Though he was never going to be an extrovert, by the end of their week together, the guys have Thomas smiling wide, feeling confident in the kitchen, and brave enough to talk to strangers in bars.
- Episode 8, Baby on Board - This was my least favorite of all the episodes, so I was bummed it was the last one. I wish they had ended on one of the stronger stories. In episode eight we meet Tony, who was nominated by his girlfriend, Bri. They are expecting their first child together, but Bri is concerned because Tony allows the house to be a complete mess, and he hasn't helped her do any kind of baby prep. I was pretty bored this episode, and though it ended with a sweet surprise, that wasn't enough to salvage it.
Each time there is a new season of Queer Eye, I have the same struggle - should I binge it all because it's just so good, or should I ration the episodes to make it last longer? If you've been able to ration them, I salute you!
Tell me, did you watch? Did you have a favorite episode?
*Photo courtesy of Eater.