This story about “Queer Eye” first appeared in the Down to the Wire issue of TheWrap’s Emmy magazine.
When rebooted “Queer Eye” was first getting off the ground at Netflix, showrunner Jennifer Lane knew it was going to live or die on its cast. The new Fab Five — the five gay men who would serve as personal lifestyle advisers and spiritual guides — would not only have to live up to the cast of the original cult-favorite Bravo series, they’d also have to stand on their own.
“We were almost overly cautious,” Lane said. “It was really important to us that our Fab Five remember the original Fab Five and be excited to take their place. But we knew the whole time we had something special with these guys.”
The new quintet — Bobby Berk, design; Karamo Brown, culture; Tan France, fashion; Antoni Porowski, food and wine; and Jonathan Van Ness, grooming — popped off the screen from the jump. Overflowing with charisma and an easy chemistry, the cast turned what could’ve been just another stop on the way to the bottom of the TV reboot barrel into a phenomenon.
Fans latched onto them too, creating memes out of things like Brown’s many bomber jackets or conspiracies about Porowski’s cooking ability. So did the participants (“heroes,” in show parlance) who at first often seemed overwhelmed by opening up their homes and their lives to five exuberant strangers, but quickly found themselves changed for the better by the experience.
Lane observed the phenomenon from the first episode. “It was so special in that last scene where you can see that he’s really sorry to see them go,” she said. “You realize that they’ve really made a difference in his life, even though it was only four days.
“This wasn’t just bulls— — so long as we treated our heroes with respect, we could really make a difference in their lives.”