Netflix’s “Queer Eye” Season 5 Review: Spreading Human Connection in Lonely Times

Picture of By Quynh (Stephanie) Bui

By Quynh (Stephanie) Bui

It has been two glorious years since the Queer Eye franchise was revived as our five fabulous gays traveled across America and transformed the lives of the nominees. Season 5 follows this successful formula by emphasizing the power of human connection, a universal theme that is difficult to fathom in lonely and chaotic times. In this season, the audience can expect new locations with new heroes from more diverse backgrounds but with the unchanging essence that has made us fall deeply in love with the series. 

(Warning: Spoiler Alert)

New Cities, New Ethnically Diverse Heroes, New Stories
The Fab 5 relocates to a chic loft in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (with only one episode taking place in New Jersey), and continues their magical quest. Since this season is based in Pennsylvania, one of the original 13 American colonies, the intro sequence features the guys dressing in colonial clothing and with the usual twist, of course. The title sequences also receive an update, where the heroes join the Fab 5 and show off their colorful personalities. Bobby also receives more screen time, and Antoni plays a more substantial role this season, slowly deviating from his handsome guy-who-cooks persona. Thank you, Netflix, for finally responding to our prayers!

Although previous seasons have featured many heroes from different ethnicities, Season 5 steps up by including black, Asian, and Mexican nominees. Despite having only two POC cast members, Queer Eye illustrates how, despite race, gender, and sexuality, humans can always find ways to empathize with one another. The heroes this season are also anything but mundane, where their personalities add to the cast’s flamboyant personas. From quirky, insecure, and awkward to rough, strong, and even crazy, Queer Eye underlines the human diversity, which speaks to a wide audience. We feel represented, connected, and understood by onscreen strangers halfway across the globe. That’s the power of entertainment.

Thank you, Netflix, for finally responding to our prayers!

Queer Eye Season 5 is also a continuation of the Fab 5’s sociopolitical crusade. They not only advocate for acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community but also empower women, immigrants, and African American communities. Throughout the seasons, the cast members have become progressively vocal about their political stances, adding a necessary political undertone to an already inspirational show. It uncovers hidden female stories – from a teen activist, a budding mobile dog grooming service owner to an insecure pediatrician, and a loving but controlling housewife – and appreciates their womanhood without judging and patronizing them.

It explores immigrant stories and the American dream in a divided country run by an outspoken president who has consistently spread anti-immigrant and xenophobic narratives. It applauds African Americans’ perseverance against the odds and inequalities as they fight to uphold and preserve their communities. Although the season was filmed and premiered before the recent Black Lives Matter protests, Queer Eye’s message has become more relevant than ever. The show’s portrayal of America is idealistic, but it is what America should have been and needs to be, where everyone is treated with equality and respect. 

Self-love and Acceptance: The Paths to Happiness
Although this is the show’s fifth season, the repetitive format still somehow brings out refreshing emotions and sensations to home viewers. The fairytale-like transformations capture my attention every time with the heroes’ outward appearance. However, what truly touches my heart is how the Fab 5 restores each hero’s self-confidence and acceptance. The show reiterates a simple yet powerful message: It’s not about how you look on the outside, but how you feel on the inside.

As a young adult, facing and acknowledging my insecurities is a tough pill to swallow, and I can imagine how the adult heroes struggle with regaining and accepting their identity. The commonality in the heroes this season is their mental loop of belittling and comparing themselves to successful figures in their lives because they “don’t live up to expectations.” They are caught in their webs and gradually become numb, indifferent, and neglectful of themselves. 

You will laugh, cry, giggle, smile, and cringe, all at the same time.

However, the five gay godfathers come to the rescue where their openness, sassiness, and sympathy allow the heroes to shed their covers and become vulnerable, honest, and authentic. As they have survived traumatic experiences and discrimination in their lives, the Fab 5 is the perfect remedy to the souls that are in need of healing. The Queer Eye cast embraces you, empowers you, and showers you with attention, compliments, and encouragement. Yes, they are direct and real in pointing out your issues, but they also guide you and reassure you in overcoming and conquering your problems. Unlike other makeover shows, the cast does not push and impose new lifestyles on the heroes, but rather elevate and make it manageable. The Fab 5 does not forcefully remold the heroes’ core but instead reintroduces their long-lost sense of self and tailors to their personalities.  

Family: The core of Season 5 (P.S. Be prepared to Cry)
However, the charming point that entices viewers this season is unquestionably its focus on family. For anyone who hasn’t been able to unite with their family, Queer Eye Season 5 will bring you to genuine tears with tearjerking moments. The heroes this season are faced with separation, disappointment, or broken relationships with their loved ones due to personal differences, cultural clashes, and misunderstanding. Queer Eye provides a safe space for these individuals to reflect on themselves and their relationships with the aid of the five guys, especially Karamo’s gem-like comforting presence. Every time he deconstructs the heroes’ problems and reconnects the severed bonds, my mind immediately goes, “uh oh, I am going to cry.” 

The show offers a mantra for those lonely souls out there: Family and Love will triumph everything. And although we do not tend to vocalize our needs, we desire to feel accepted, validated, and loved by those around us. We want to belong somewhere. Some of my favorite heart-warming moments include how the dad of a 38-year-old defeated DJ tells him that the family just wants him to be happy. Or how a strict Mexican dad apologizes to his family and estranged daughter for not being more understanding. But don’t worry, you will still have great laughs at the cast’s out-of-this-world, extra, goofy shenanigans and pizazz (them messing with the heroes’ messes), and smile at the heroes’ jokes and conversations.

It is not an understatement that I became an emotional trainwreck after watching the show, but also the best kind. You will laugh, cry, giggle, smile, and cringe, all at the same time. Queer Eye is an all-inclusive series that is brimmed of wholesome “bless your heart” moments. As the scale and popularity of Netflix’s hit series continue to rise, I hope it will be able to preserve and spread positive energy to more individuals in need of their one-of-a-kind “Yas Queen” sparks. 

Queer Eye Season 5 is available for streaming on Netflix.

Cover: Courtesy of Netflix via Billy Penn

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