POWER OF FIVE
WHY YOU MUST WATCH NEW SEASON OF QUEER EYE
After a long, drawnout battle involving a $100 million postal vote, last year Australia finally legalised marriage equality, meaning people could marry whoever they damn well pleased.
From more than 12.5 million responses, 7.82 million people voted yes to same-sex marriage equality, making up 62 per cent of the overall vote.
While numbers and stats paint one picture, the popularity of a television show that revolves around five gay men putting their magic touch on the lives of people who need it paints another.
So much so that, out of everywhere in the world, the Fab Five and stars of Queer Eye (sans For the Straight Guy) chose our country for a stopover last month.
“We hear that you guys are loving the show, it’s rating really well in Australia, so it just made sense that we’d come out and show our love for the Australian fans by making sure that we’re here to support them too,” fashion expert Tan France says.
Bobby Berk, design expert, adds to his stylish comrade’s sentiment.
“I don’t think we had a tonne of coverage in the States about the fight that happened but we know it passed, which is a great thing,” he says.
“One thing that’s so great about the show is that it’s not necessarily pushing an agenda, it’s just pushing love and acceptance. You know, who can’t get on board with that?”
If you’re unfamiliar with Queer Eye, it stems from the original show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy which ran from 2003-2007.
The premise of the original show was for straight men to undergo holistic transformations, spurred along by the Fab Five who specialise in different areas – fashion, grooming, design, culture and food.
It was a smash hit, winning an Emmy and even a spin-off, but all good things must come to an end.
Last year Netflix announced it would be reprising the show with the same concept, but a new cast. Antoni Porowski, food and wine expert; Tan France, fashion expert; Karamo Brown, culture expert; Bobby Berk, design expert; and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming expert.
The first season was received better than Netflix could have ever anticipated, with the Fab Five becoming international superstars almost overnight. Their faces became internet memes, their infectious words became instant catchphrases and people everywhere were talking about how episodes of Queer Eye made them laugh and cry within minutes.
They became an instant part of popular culture but, also, role models for people struggling to come to terms with who they are, people who feel they’re on the outside or even just people who need a smile slapped across their fabulous dial.
“To me I feel like there’s so much negativity, not just in the press but on TV in general,” Bobby says.
“There’s certain things right now that are so frustrating, that bring us down.
“We really wanted to be a beacon of hope.
“We wanted to show people that giving self-love not only to yourself but to each other can really change the world.
“And I think that’s what’s so important about the second coming of Queer Eye.
“Teaching people we can’t be defined by political affiliation or anything like that, we only need to be defined by how we treat our fellow humans.”
As mentioned, the “For the Straight Guy” was lopped off the end of the show’s name to allow the Fab Five to broaden their horizons.
In season one they helped a young gay man come out to his mother.
In season two, now streaming on Netflix (small spoiler alert), they make over a mother and a recently transitioned transsexual man.
Their physical transformations are in some cases downright gobsmacking, but more so are the transformations in people’s attitudes, especially people who had previously given up on themselves a little.
Each man has his own objective on the show, and some people have joked about how vastly different some can be in difficulty – for example Bobby will transform an entire home structurally and designwise, while Antoni teaches a fast food-addicted man how to make guacamole.
But Bobby doesn’t see it that way.
“My job is in no way any more important than any of my other brothers,” he says.
“I might have a job that’s a little more time-consuming just because of what it is, but it’s in no way the hardest job.
“I would say Karamo has the hardest job, because every week all four of us, besides Karamo, know for the most part what we’re doing.
“Karamo is the only one that after actually meeting the guy, he has to say, ‘All right, what can I do to help this guy on the inside?’
“So to me I might be running around and doing more shopping or helping my design team do building but I definitely don’t think I have the hardest job. He’s got to be real creative every week.”
Then there are those involved with the awkwardness of changing someone’s appearance, Tan and Jonathan, who each week are faced with telling someone their look isn’t working.
Tan doesn’t see his job as being difficult or a sensitive area, more so he feels lucky to be able to connect with someone while their guard is down.
“Actually I think I’m one of the luckiest on the cast,” he says. “I think I have the lovely job of being able to see them in their underwear and that opens up a vulnerability like you’d never believe.
“I get to speak to them on a very personal level and, when you are standing in your underwear in front of me, that means I can pretty much ask you anything.
“If I’ve seen you naked, I can ask you anything.
“So I think I’ve got an easy job when it comes to having a conversation that a lot of the other boys I think want to have too.
“I take a look at someone’s body, I see how I’m going to dress them and that opens me up to a wealth of conversation.
“So I feel really lucky to have that as my category.”
Another thing that makes people so connected to Queer Eye is the fact that, despite the men working on one human at a time, the people watching feel a sense of residual motivation.
They might be telling their subject to put effort into how they dress, how they look, how they come across, how they are affecting their loved ones – in short, telling them to look after themselves – but that message rubs off on viewers.
THERE’S CERTAIN THINGS RIGHT NOW THAT ARE SO FRUSTRATING... WE REALLY WANTED TO BE A BEACON OF HOPE