Men are creatures of comfort and habit. Same barber and same haircut for years. A wardrobe that hasn’t been modified since college. A house in which the laundry and the dirty dishes pile up for weeks. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the prevalent mentality, so what business does Netflix have reviving a makeover show from the early- to mid-aughts, especially now, in the era of hot messes and “you do you?”
But this is also the era for self-care, for the battle against toxic masculinity, for openness and acceptance and humility in spite of—or because of—the Weinsteins and the Trumps of the world. And this is what infuses the Queer Eye reboot with so much more depth and insight than the original series: it is refreshingly woke, and damn proud to be so. Taking the makeovers beyond the physical (haircuts, shaves, closet upgrades, home redecoration) and into the psychological (a conversation about one devout Christian’s deeply ingrained prejudices, for example, or an old divorcee’s insistence that “you can’t fix ugly," or helping a closet gay man redefine the word “feminine,” and in the process, get ready to come out to his stepmom), Queer Eye won’t just leave you wanting a new ‘do or pants that are the right fit; it’ll make you believe that you can truly be a better person overall, working from the inside out to become the most purposeful, confident, successful version of yourself.
And if you think it’s going to be all catty comments and “parlor humor,” think again. The new Fab Five are a diverse, intelligent, and—perhaps most pleasantly surprising of all—genuinely kind bunch, sincerely looking out and rooting for each episode’s makeover recipient (they call them “heroes”) and making an effort to understand where the bad habits are coming from instead of simply imposing their solutions for the sake of a good transformation. An easy favorite is the cool-as-a-cucumber Antoni Porowski, the Food and Beverage connoisseur with mad taste in band tees and appetizers. Grooming guy Jonathan Van Ness, with his top buns, cutout crop tops, and “yas kween”s, is the show’s welcome comic relief, while charming Fashion pro Tan France is the most sensitive at reading the heroes’ nonverbal cues when he brings out his pink shirts and tropical-print pieces, and backtracking with a compromise that makes them both happy. Rounding out the group are Karamo Brown, Culture consultant, and Bobby Berk, Interior Design expert.
This time around, the best thing about Queer Eye isn’t that it’s a show about change, about how you can stand out from the crowd if you only combed your hair or wore the right shoes. No, the best thing about it is that it’s a show about how deep down, all of us—gay or straight, conservative or liberal, black, white, or brown—have more in common than we think: the desire to be loved, the yearning to be accepted, the need to provide for our families, the longing to make real, lasting connections as we make our way through life. Queer Eye wants you to put in the work, of course, but it also wants you to look inside and around, and see the good that already exists.