‘Queer Eye’ preaches self-care in new season

The Fab Five change lives in Kansas City, Missouri

Written By Amanda Myers, Co-Features Editor

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The realm of reality TV, or entertainment in general, was a senseless slog until a newly branded Fab Five returned to our screens with a modern reboot of “Queer Eye” last spring.

The new cast of Netflix’s “Queer Eye” have quickly become the needed role models of a generation in an overarching identity flux, helping contestants change their lives in different areas: style, decor, culture, food and grooming. Each episode of  the new season three serves as a self-love reminder for both the show’s “heroes” and viewers, and makes it even easier to fall in love with the effervescent Fab Five.

The original “Queer Eye” ran on Bravo in the early 2000s and was one of the early explosions of queer culture on mainstream television. The show birthed stars like style guru Carson Kressley (judge on “Ru Paul’s Drag Race”) and food expert Ted Allen (host of “Chopped”). The format originally centered on transforming the lives of straight guys, until they later began to mentor women, as well.

Today’s iteration of the Fab Five is a more on-the-nose cast that’s determined to change the lives of contestants in a collaborative, caring manner rather than in an abrasive fashion, as was common of the media landscape back in the aughts.

There’s Karamo Brown, whose expertise lies in culture, and is more or less the in-house life coach of “Queer Eye.” Tan France is the style expert with a penchant for the “French tuck.” Antoni Porowski is the puppy-eyed food expert serving up simple, satisfying dishes. Bobby Berk is the inspiring decor export that transforms dull spaces into worthwhile settings. And Jonathan Van Ness is the hair flipping, heel wearing, ice skate-loving grooming expert.

This season places an important emphasis on self-love and self-care in a time where the phrase “treat yourself” has become a much needed wake-up call for people desperate to break out of their daily grind. The first two seasons saw the cast transform lives on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia. Now the boys’ home base is in Kansas City, Missouri, where they tackle preconceived stereotypes of the Midwest.

In the premier episode, the Fab Five meet their “hero” as they lovingly call their contestants, or rather “heroine,” named Jody. Jody is a hunter who lives in camo and tomboy-style clothes, her gorgeous mane of hair put up in a tight bun. Husband Chris nominated her because he wants to see her happy with herself again, and you can feel the love he has for Jody radiating off of him.

The Fab Five tackle the issue of femininity with Jody and show her that the term doesn’t only come in a pink, frilly box: Feminity is whatever makes you feel empowered. Brown brings together a diverse range of women to talk with Jody about what makes them feel feminine and Jody flourishes in this environment. She becomes more comfortable letting that side of herself show for her sake and not anyone else’s.

Nearly every episode is a tearjerker and a powerful transformative experience not only for the heroes and heroines, but for The Fab Five, as well.

Van Ness allows his flawless exterior to crack when he helps give widower Rob a new look. He recalls the loss of his step-father and the cancer scare of his mom and lets the tears flow. Berk connects with lesbian Jess who was kicked out of her home by her adopted family when she was 16. Berk had a similar experience living in cars and friends’ homes when he was kicked out of his home before he formed his own family in his mid 20s.

The roles of each of the Fab Five are also extended.

After that disastrous hotdog cooking episode in season two, Porowski redeems himself this run with meals that create a personal connection, as well as those that cross cultural boundaries (like a meat salad from Thailand called Larb). France looks to make people feel better in their own skin and embraces people’s natural style in a bigger way by incorporating quirky and identifiable elements of their personalities.

Brown also seems to be more of a major player than in previous seasons. He’s the wise sensei in a bomber jacket that always gives the right amount of support and love.

One of the season’s most heartfelt episodes centers around sisters Deborah “Little” and Mary “Shorty” Jones. They run Jones Bar-B-Que, originally founded by their father. The partners in crime never take a day off removed from their father’s legacy, and when they start to see themselves as people outside of the business, it only makes them more motivated to grow their restaurant.

“Queer Eye” is more than just a reality show — it’s a reminder to embrace your inner hero or heroine. With five of the funniest, kindest and most charming co-hosts in show business, it’s a little hard not to feel empowered in the company of the Fab Five (even if it’s through a computer screen).

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