The Dec. 31 premiere of the sixth season of “Queer Eye” was aptly timed; when better to release a show about five men improving the lives of local heroes than right before the new year, a time when almost everyone is resolving to improve themselves? “Queer Eye” returned for its sixth season after a break that lasted longer than a year and a half, thanks to the global pandemic.
Each episode follows the Fab 5, who are five experts in different fields — Antoni, food and wine; Bobby, design; Tan, fashion; Jonathan, grooming; and Karamo, culture — helping to bring confidence and life back to a few people who seem to have lost their way, all over the course of one week. This season is set in Austin, Texas, and it features heroes that range from a physician who helps administer COVID-19 tests to an up-and-coming rapper.
“Showdown at the Broken Spoke”
The sixth season of “Queer Eye” kicks off with a bang: The Fab 5 set up their headquarters in Austin and mosey over to a family-owned dance hall, where they meet two-step dance instructor Terri White and her father. Terri is an older woman who is absolutely terrified of aging — to her daughter’s dismay, since her grandson is planning on moving in with her soon. The group helps Terri regain her confidence and shows her how to age gracefully while also rebuilding her relationship with her daughter. While they do make a lot of progress, at the end of the week, she is still insecure about her hair and refuses to take her wig off.
This episode was the only one that was filmed before the pandemic. At the end of the episode, the Fab 5 visit Terri and her family again. Terri’s father had died during the pandemic, as had her son-in-law. Tragedy struck the Whites hard, but the progress that Terri made was not undone; in fact, Terri had taken off her wig and begun to show off her natural hair.
Controversy followed this episode, however. On Yelp, the dance hall, Broken Spoke, had seen quite a lot of negative reviews — particularly ones that reference Terri’s allegedly homophobic, racist and offensive behavior while teaching her class.
“Angel Gets Her Wings”
The second episode is one of the most heartfelt episodes of the newest season. Angel is a trans woman whose safe space is the gym, where she is a powerlifter. Outside of the gym, though, she tends to be unsure of how she should dress or act and is afraid of exploring herself. After she began transitioning, her father, one of the most important figures in her life, stopped talking to her. The Fab 5 help Angel become aware of her inner beauty and, with her consent, contact her father so the two of them can begin reconnecting.
The look on Angel’s face after Jonathan finished her makeover and after Tan picked out a few new outfits was probably one of the most emotional scenes of the entire show. In fact, some viewers claimed the scene should be mandatory viewing, because who would deny trans people rights after seeing how happy Angel was when embodying her true feminine self? And to finish it off, there was the reunion scene between Angel and her father, where they cried together as he tried to understand what she was going through.
“No More Bull”
Josh is a stereotypical cowboy who spends almost his entire day caring for his cattle. He is hyper-conservative and wants to give off a manly aura, so he spends little to no time practicing hygiene. On the day of his meeting with the Fab 5, we can see that he is quite taken aback by them and their style. I will never forget the scene where the Fab 5 band together to wash Josh’s hair for the first time in potentially months, and the water comes out brown.
Nevertheless, the Fab 5 work their magic and help Josh see that there is more than one way to be a man. They educate him on what it means to be queer, and they even book a class for him on politeness and table manners. At the end of the week, Josh is able to sit down with his ex-girlfriend, who he is still friends with, for dinner. There, he formally and genuinely apologizes to her for the first time.
“A Night to Remember”
The Fab 5 then head over to a local high school filled with students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged and help them plan the prom of their dreams within a week. Bobby finds them a new and improved venue while also renovating their high school lounge area as the class’s gift to the next students. Tan and Jonathan find them the perfect theme for the event, Antoni takes their assistance with preparing some of the food and Karamo talks to them about their legacy and how the pandemic affected their education as well as their private lives.
As a high school senior when the pandemic first hit in March 2020, this episode hit me a lot harder than I expected it to. I had honestly completely forgotten that I did not have a prom or a real graduation, and this episode reminded me of the lack of closure to my high school career. These kids had been through so much, both inside and outside of school, so the scene where the students all put something in their time capsule and then thanked their teachers really tugged at my heartstrings.
“A Legend in the Baking”
While most of the season’s episodes felt very authentic, this one fell very flat to me. The hero, Sarah, seemed to be on the episode just to promote her business, and she was not as appreciative of the Fab 5’s help as the rest of the heroes of the season. Sarah was single-handedly running an Asian bakery called “OMG Squee,” which had been hit really hard by the pandemic since it was Asian-owned and opened just before the pandemic began. The Fab 5 renovated her style while also helping her network with other local businesses; however, her reaction to Bobby’s redesign was the biggest slap in the face. She did not seem excited at all, which is kind of understandable given how much she evidently enjoyed control (she did not let anyone else make the baked goods because of how intricate the designs were). After looking at the OMG Squee Instagram, audiences can see that she actually redid a lot of the renovations, and she left Bobby and Tan out of her Instagram “thank you” post.
This episode really emphasized what is, in my opinion, one of the show’s weaker points — that is, the Fab 5 has become a recognizable name. Based on Sarah’s Instagram, she actually watches the show and seemed to have already had her favorite experts before meeting them all in person. At some level, it takes away from the show’s realness.
“The Mis-Inspiration of Reggie Devore”
This season, the show also spent a lot of time focusing on people who played integral roles in their community, like the aforementioned physician, a nonprofit rescue organization founder and a humanitarian who helps get people off the streets. While this is not a bad thing by any means, it got a little bit repetitive, especially with all of these episodes airing right after each other. The season finale, “The Mis-Inspiration of Reggie Devore,” is a welcome refresher after the series of activists. Reggie is a rapper who was stunted by the pandemic right after the highest moment in his career. This setback made him want to give up music completely, but the Fab 5 reignited his passion.
Overall, the sixth season of “Queer Eye” was a great way to ring in the new year, since it serves as a reminder that everyone is worthy of a little self-care and self-love.