Rebooted by Netflix in 2018 nearly a decade after the original series left the air, Queer Eye has captured the attention, and hearts, of many reality TV fans. Queer Eye is a self-improvement show hosted by five fabulous gay men, ever so accurately called the “Fab Five.” This dynamic team is comprised of fashion expert, Tan France, food and wine expert, Antoni Porowski, culture and lifestyle pro, Karamo Brown, design aficionado, Bobby Berk, and grooming expert, Jonathan Van Ness. The show aims to help individuals improve their mental and emotional health by pinpointing personal struggles, emphasizing the importance of taking time for yourself and helping to make changes in the five areas above. For the first two seasons currently out on Netflix, viewers follow the Fab Five around Georgia as they try to enhance people’s self-esteem by bringing an air of positivity and a motivational push to help people embrace their emotions and also make the changes needed to better their lives, ranging from the clothes they wear to the space they live in.
Not only does Queer Eye help people feel more comfortable and confident in their own skin, but it has also opened up conversation about the gay community. Queer Eye brings forth five men embracing their individuality and their true selves, but does not shy away from the difficult discussions of coming out as gay and being accepted by, or shunned from, their previous communities. Interior designer, Bobby Berk, has opened up on the show about how religion was an enormous part of his life growing up. However, when he realized at a young age that he was gay and knew that he would be shunned by his community, he prayed every day for God to make him not gay. Berk faced extreme homophobia and a lack of acceptance in his hometown which eventually led him to leave home when he was fifteen years old. The second season of Queer Eye reveals Berk’s hesitation in stepping foot in a church again since the first time he was a kid, the isolation, hate and lack of acceptance he experienced as a child still affecting him today. Berk, however, completed the episode as he felt compelled to finish his project to support of the entirety of the LGBTQ+ community.
Culture and lifestyle expert, Karamo Brown, has also faced a series of mental health issues. In an interview with TODAY in July of 2018, Brown discussed his issues with mental health and depression. Brown explains how after wrapping up his first TV appearance on MTV’s Real World, he struggled with severe depression that led him to contemplate suicide. With the onset of his depression, Brown began to abuse alcohol and drugs as a way to cope with his emotions. Brown also acknowledges that even though he was studying to be a mental health professional at the time, he wasn’t immune to his own mental health struggles. It was Brown’s roommate in college that finally staged an intervention by calling his mother, leading him to the realization that, “[i]t didn’t register to me [Brown] that I had to check in with myself and I had to work on my mental health.” Brown now emphasizes the importance of checking in on friends and family and supporting one another. He cites his roommate as the intervention and the support he needed to self-reflect and work on his own mental health, and that “[i]f it wasn’t for my roommate, who I had been best friends with since I was 16 years old, calling my mother, I don’t know where I’d be right now.”
Queer Eye doesn’t just show the importance of self-care and confidence in contributing to good mental and emotional health, but also embodies it as well. The show offers an open perspective into the gay community and highlights the personal challenges and lasting effects of those challenges faced by the host themselves, such as with Bobby Berk. Karamo Brown also speaks openly about his struggles with depression and the importance of checking in with friends and family. The Fab Five teach us to embrace ourselves with an air of confidence and capability, and that it is okay to not be okay and to stand out from the crowd. As Jonathan Van Ness says, “[i]t's OK to have a relationship with yourself."