TV

How Netflix's new Queer Eye Fab Five have reinvented the beloved show

'There was a lot of pressure!'

By Maddison Hockey

Rebooting a show is no easy feat, particularly one as groundbreaking as Queer Eye was when it debuted in 2003.

A decade after the original finished up, Netflix took a stab at reviving it – and passed with flying colours. It went from a makeover show for straight men to a pop-culture phenomenon and a conversation for change.

Much of that is thanks to the loveable leads – Antoni Porowski, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown and Tan France – and their contemporary goal.

"The original show is fighting for tolerance – our fight is for acceptance," Tan, 35, explains in the opening episode.

But before they could push their agenda, the new Fab Five felt the stress that comes with recreating an old fave.

"There was definitely a lot of pressure," Bobby, 36, tells TV WEEK. "When you're remaking a show that so many people loved, there's pressure to not only make a good show again, but also not just copy what they did."

Jonathan, Antoni, Tan, Bobby and Karamo are the new Fab Five.
Jonathan, Antoni, Tan, Bobby and Karamo are the new Fab Five.

Despite the pressure, Queer Eye has succeeded in differentiating itself from its predecessor.

Featuring open conversations on diverse issues at a time when acceptance is a hot topic, as well as heartfelt moments that leave viewers crying with happiness, it was an instant hit.

"People relate to the show," Antoni, 34, says of Queer Eye's ability to break down barriers. "Whether it's their [personal] experience or they know a loved one who's experienced something we've discussed, like coming out, or one of the harder-hitting conversations."

In season one, we watched lives transform and a dialogue open up about equality, racial prejudice, sexuality and religion.

It may sound like heavy content, but it's all done in a positive and uplifting way. After all, breaking down barriers isn't the sole purpose of the show.

"I think sometimes it comes through in a very obvious way, and sometimes it's a secondary conversation," Antoni, Queer Eye's food and wine expert, explains. "The format of the show allows for these things to happen in a real, honest way."

No matter how deep the conversation gets, there's always a heart-warming transformation at its centre.

"The fact we get to impact someone's life in a massive way, every week, is kind of wicked," fashion expert Tan says.

Father-of-two Leo is thrilled to get some help from the Fab Five.
Father-of-two Leo is thrilled to get some help from the Fab Five.

Now, season two promises more diversity, more warm and fuzzy moments and, of course, even more tears.

"Episode one starts out with a woman," Bobby teases. "We're also helping out our first transgender person. So it's really great because we get to take it [the show's diversity] even further."

Grooming guru Jonathan says viewers will love the new episodes.

"There's a lot of heart, a lot of joy and you're going to have a lot of fun," the 31-year-old says.

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This season also features a special episode filmed in Yass, in southern NSW. The Fab Five travelled to the rural town to make over one lucky resident, as well as a local business.

"We were doing a mini-episode – a mini-makeover," Bobby reveals. "Tan, Jonathan and Karamo got to help make over an individual who was nominated by his son, and Antoni and I got to help the local community."

Their trip down under was topped off by the mayor of Yass, Rowena Abbey, crowning all five men "Yass Queens".

"We all wore tiaras – it was a first for me," Antoni says.

"No, it wasn't, you liar!" Tan laughs. "We've seen you on a Friday night!"

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Queer Eye season one and two are available to stream on Netflix now.

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