Regardless of Antoni’s simple recipes, and how staged the episode tackling police brutality seemed, Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye is having a Kondo effect on the men who watch it. Now that the series has had some time to settle, we wondered: What lasting lessons have the Fab 5 — Tan, Antoni, Karamo, Bobby, and Jonathan — imparted to the male members of their audience?
To find out, the Cut spoke to a handful of male New York Queer Eye stans about the show’s impact. Andy, 46, finally renovated unused space in his apartment, haunted by what the Fab 5 would think: “They would not approve of this layer of dirt and grease, and it’s so little effort to fix it.” Ben, who’s in his early 30s, felt moved to be a great dad after seeing how much one of the made-over men cherished his own. Dave, a 29-year-old gay man who thought the new iteration could be meaner, was a bit more measured: “I didn’t really find true inspiration in so much as I thought it was funny, nice, and breezy.”
But perhaps surprisingly, some of the most touching testimonials we found were virtual ones, located in a place not exactly known for being uplifting: Reddit. Below, what the viewers most excited for Queer Eye’s second season took away from the new hit.
Masculinity can be positive.
“The concept seems really almost offensive, but the execution is quite something. We’ve only seen the first 3 episodes, but I’ve been really impressed and I think I would recommend it to anyone looking to see positive masculinity.
“The hosts are very interested in keeping everything that the target is. There is nothing about stopping them from liking what they like or being who they are. They are very accepting.”
Courage to come out to family.
“Not sure if I’m breaking any rules, but I just wanted to say something. I started watching Queer Eye last night and, after getting to AJ’s episode, I had to do a lot of hard thinking.
“I came out to my family today. As someone who’s been trying to deny that I am gay for about two years now, it’s sooo freeing to be able to finally act like myself around everybody. And it wouldn’t have been possible without Queer Eye or the Fab 5.”
Grooming can show respect and love for your partner.
“I really enjoyed this series. I liked how the guys explained to some men how it’s okay to be perceived as sexy. Men are allowed to be sexy and, in fact, we encourage that these days.
“More than any of that, I really valued how they pointed out that wearing nicer clothes and taking the time to groom yourself is a sign of respect and love for your significant other. It shows that you care enough about them that you want to be attractive for them. You know they’ll love you no matter what, but putting effort into your appearance is a way to show them that you care.”
Men need to ask themselves the tough questions.
“Not particularly-well-dressed straight dude checking in: I binged the show.
“The conceit (gay guys dress you up / fix up your home) was merely an entree into a more nuanced set of questions: what duties to self does the average American man owe himself — and how does he fail to satisfy them? In what way can he demonstrate a positive self-image? In what ways does he hide behind a “I don’t care / am too busy / can’t lose face” routine, and how can that be shattered?”
It’s okay for men to feel wanted.
“What surprised me was the emotional core of providing an adult man with the emotional support and permission to feel desirable, to feel like they can and should try to take care of themselves.
“I feel very lucky to have male friends that are supportive in that way, but after discussing with my gf, realized that it’s incredibly common for groups of girls to ‘gas each other up’ so to speak, but that many adult men, particularly those more conservative/traditional bubbles, can go their whole lives without receiving that kind of warmth and support. It really demonstrates how just a small self-esteem issue can really snowball into a years-long emotional rut that you don’t even realize you’re in. And it also shows how just a little emotional validation from your peers can give you the strength and confidence to be vulnerable and try new things.”
Many sides of masculinity should be embraced.
“With all of the talk of toxic masculinity, and school shooters and ‘loners’ and all of that, I think it’s time we all looked at every possible angle of masculinity (including gay masculinity) and say, ‘Okay, what are they doing right, and how do we adopt that?’”
How to start conversations with teen sons about touchy subjects.
“I watch it with my grooming-challenged young sons. They love it and some of the episodes bring up topics that spark lots [of] after show conversations.”
Tools to open up to a romantic partner.
“It’s not all heterosexual men they help, but often men who battle with machismo. I love this suggestion though, because it really helped start a dialogue with my wife and I about some of the anxieties I feel in our relationship and at work. Absolutely fantastic show.”
Lifestyle changes don’t have to take forever.
“I just got fired from a job that payed okay-ish but was HELL. Still living at home, and this show has given me the invigoration to keep moving and not fall into a depressive rut. Cleaned out my closet, going to donate more than half of my clothes (some going back to junior high), helping around the house, keeping productive plans and so on and so forth.
“I feel like I’m learning a bit, and if nothing else it’s amazing to see how much one’s life can change in a week with the right guidance. Also, the fab 5 are fucking amazing, I can’t believe I almost wrote the show off because of how over-the-top their faces were in the promos, it’s crazy to see how down-to-earth they are once the cameras are actually rolling.”
Motivation to reorganize and redecorate.
“I’m a 48-year-old who’s basically been a geeky metalhead stoner dude all my life. My wardrobe consisted of concert / band shirts, TV show / video game / movie shirts, loose jeans, and vans. I also suffer from a fair amount of anxiety and depression and am about 30–40 lbs overweight.
“This show opened my heart and had me sobbing like a child on episode 4. Being pansexual, I really related. After watching the whole series, I found myself inspired to get my own life together as if they were advising me.
“I looked at my room and took down the big tapestry and put my guitars on wall hooks. I rearranged my space to be more open and clean.
“I trimmed my long and wooly goatee shorter and fitting my face shape. I’m getting decent casual clothes that fit well and look nice. I’m being more hygienic overall.
“I find my confidence improving and I no longer want to be some schlubby neckbeard. I am starting to like myself more. I don’t feel the need to completely abandon my old self. But hell, I saw Pallbearer play and the bassist has his hair trimmed nicely and was wearing a button up shirt and playing some heavy, amazing tunes like that. Why not me?”