We can't begin to explain how much we love quality Queer Eye lessons. The Netflix reboot was an instant success from the moment we set eyes on Karamo, Jonathan, Bobby, Antoni and Tan. The new members of the Fab Five had us laughing, crying and and feeling every other emotion from the minute episode one began. It was clear from the start that this wasn't going to be a show that was just about makeovers and home renovations.
It was and is a show that promotes self-love, self-acceptance, and self-awareness. It promotes checking up and checking in on ourselves and others, making sure to take care of and spend time with the things and people we love, including ourselves. It's a constant reminder that it's okay to not be okay, it's okay to reach out for help and it's okay to depend on others when we need to. It encourages everyone to become and to be their best selves at the pace they're able to. We could go on and on about the wonders of this show — and we will by sharing 20 life lessons we learned from Queer Eye.
On season four of Queer Eye, the Fab Five meet Kenny, a lovely older gentleman who hasn't changed his house, or himself, since his parents passed away. Long story short, they help him buy a dog, shave his mustache and remind him that he can still serve his fellow church members while also serving himself and letting other people serve him. We love this lesson from Karamo and company: there's enough love to go around, and you deserve a lot of it. Sometimes we hide behind what we do for others so we can forget about doing things for ourselves or letting other people do things for us, but we have to remember how important we are, too!
Karamo really knows how to connect to people, and even though we're watching him from the couch, we feel connected, too. On season one, the hero of episode two, Neal, is working on an app launch on the outside and a lot of personal issues on the inside. He knows he's got his guard up both mentally and physically (check out those crossed arms), but with Karamo's help, he's able to start opening himself up. We love this nice reminder that pushing away others doesn't just hurt them, it also hurts ourselves. The walls don't have to be demolished immediately, and it's okay to pick the pace that you let them down at, but it's important to acknowledge that building those walls isn't just about the people on the other side. A good Queer Eye lesson for all of us to remember!
We know this quote from Antoni is definitely about food, but we think it can apply to most areas of life. During the season two episode, "The Handyman Can," the Fab Five meet Burning Man enthusiast, Jason, and work on preparing him for a big move to Reno. He's creative and spirited, so finding foods to make is a treat for the duo and leads us to this awesome quote. It's a nice reminder and lesson that both in food and in all areas of life you should be taking healthy risks, always learning and doing things that bring a little bit of flavor and fun. Life isn't always easy or perfect (and neither is our cooking, let's be honest), but that doesn't mean the excitement, the happiness, and the thrill need to disappear!
Bobby kills it with design, and even though it seems like sometimes he's spending the entirety of the episodes doing all the manual labor, he's got some wonderful words of wisdom to share as well. On season four's episode, "Soldier Returns Home," Bobby and hero, Brandonn, work on building an island for the family's kitchen. This small step is a big way for the veteran to show his family that he cares about them, that he's invested in their lives together, and that he's willing to work at it to make it better for them all. Bobby always helps us recognize that even baby steps can put us back on course and heading where we want to go. Sometimes those baby steps are throw pillows and sometimes they're small life adjustments, but they both work.
Tan is a style genius, but he also knows a thing or two about confidence and self-esteem. On season three's "Jones Bar-B-Q," the fashionista is dressing sisters Mary and Deborah, both of whom are happily surprised at the outcome after being incredibly hesitant to try on long leather skirts and colorful cardigans. We love that Tan understands his heroes' insecurities and helps them both work with them and against them. He's willing to offer tips and tricks that will help them dress to their comfort level both physically and mentally, but he also consistently reminds them that who they are and what they look like is beautiful the way it is. We appreciate this Queer Eye lesson and Tan's understanding of fashion and feelings, and we're glad he's always reminding us to rock what we've got!
Jonathan Van Ness always knows what to say. On the season four episode, "A Tale of Two Cultures," JVN and hero, Deanna, talk about life over a new hairdo. Deanna discusses her Mexican-American upbringing and how her father taught her never to ask for more than she needs, to never bring more attention to herself than necessary and how failure to do so causes problems. JVN relates his own life in the LGBTQ+ community to hers and reminds her — and us all — that no matter who you are, where you're from, who you love, or anything else, it's okay to ask for what you need and it's okay to need to ask to begin with. The arbitrary targets on your back are not your fault, they're the faults of those who place them there.
When Karamo meets season one hero, Cory the police officer, during the episode "Dega Don't," their time together immediately turns to the discussion of police brutality and racism. They're able to have an open, calm, and understanding conversation that acknowledges both their points of view and gives them an opportunity to find their shared values about how society should function. One of the greatest things about Queer Eye is that the Fab Five often take the chance to sit down with their heroes and learn from them about life, about love, about everything. It's something we could all benefit from remembering: the people around us can always teach us new things and we can teach them, no matter our differences.
On the season one episode, "Camp Rules," two Bobbys join together to plant a garden and discuss God. Fab Five Bobby, designer extraordinaire, grew up going to the church and experienced negativity around his sexual orientation and the church he was a part of. Hero Bobby is a current devout Christian who values the place religion takes in his family life. The two are able to find common ground over eggplants and zucchinis, and our interior decorator is able to recall this quote from a less hurtful part of his religious past. Much like their episode-long journey and both their journeys through their religious experiences, they are able to see that hard times often lead to growth, understanding and better future days. We appreciate B. Berk for sharing this lesson, despite the emotions that may be attached to it, and the reminder that not all struggles are as they seem.
"Black Girl Magic" shows our hero, Jess, as she struggles with accepting that her family cast her out for her sexual orientation. We've heard the Fab Five and other heroes discuss similar stories, and it breaks our hearts. Thankfully, we have Tan to remind us that sometimes it's not always about our blood relations, but our chosen family. Tan helps Jess remember that her friend of almost a decade is someone who has helped her get as far as she has. It's a great lesson to acknowledge that we have the ability to find people outside our biological families who can make differences in our worlds and who will love us unconditionally. Family doesn't have to be based on DNA, it can be based on connection, relationships, and love.
The Fab Five spend a lot of time talking about doing things for yourself, taking time to appreciate yourself and love yourself and the season three episode, "Lost Boy," takes it just a step further. During this episode, they meet Joey, the director of a camp, who needs a little help focusing on himself and his son and how to make a more efficient and better life for them as a family on the campgrounds. Joey finds satisfaction in helping others, but Jonathan is here to remind the episode's hero that you can also find those same feelings of accomplishment while helping yourself, even if it's through seemingly small actions like grooming and cleaning. It's great to remember that serving yourself is still an act of service, and it's still an achievement!
We said it before and we'll say it again: Queer Eye isn't just about makeovers and renovations. These are big transformations for our heroes, but the transformations are happening both physically and mentally. We love what Bobby has to say to season four hero, John Stoner, when he helps redo his house to make it more appropriate for him and his daughter to share: this is a reset. It's okay to need a clean slate and a fresh start to get back into the game. There's nothing wrong with needing to renovate a room, get a new hairstyle or figure out a new mindset to help you get back to setting goals and achieving them. Sometimes we all just need to hit restart on the computer that is our lives, and there's nothing wrong with that as long as we use that reset to our advantage!
When Tom Jackson appeared as the first hero on episode one of season one, we knew we were never turning back. His tagline, "you can't fix ugly," made us chuckle and broke our hearts at the same time. Jonathan to the rescue! During their quality beard-shaping time, JVN reminded this sweet redneck margarita-drinking Romeo that it's not about what you look like, it's about who you are and what you think of yourself. Sometimes we all need a reminder that we can control what kind of self-love we give ourselves and put out into the world. It just takes a little time and a little TLC.
If you watched a majority of season one's episode, "To Gay or Not Too Gay," you probably wouldn't have expected hero of the hour, AJ, to come walking out in a leather harness. But that's the power of words and conversations with the Fab Five, people. On this episode, AJ struggles with coming out to his family and embracing his true identity, but Tan reminds him that the people who love him would never be offended by him being who he is, even and especially if that means rocking the heck out of a leather harness. Sometimes we shy away from being 100 percent who we want to be based on society's expectations and labels, on what we think others will say or do about, and other worries. But the people who matter most will want you to be the person you're meant to because they know that's what's right for you. We know the Fab Five are embracing their true identities every single day, and we're thankful they're helping us to do the same.
Season four hero, Wanda, showed us all how to make a difference in a community, and the Fab Five showed her how to make a difference in her own life. On the episode, "How Wanda Got Her Groove Back," our hero has a hard time building a life independent of her drill team, The Pythons. She eats, sleeps and dresses drill team, literally. In a discussion with Tan, they acknowledge that she is more than just her team and that she's allowed to act like it. We're big fans of this idea that we can dress however we want: masculine, feminine, for work, for fun, etc. Another important Queer Eye lesson: It doesn't have to be the same every single day. All parts and sides of you should get a chance to shine!
We thought we were watching a Parks & Recreation rerun when we saw the season two episode, "Make Ted Great Again," but as it turns out there are some young mayors who aren't ice clowns running ice towns. The hero of the episode, Ted, is the mayor of Clarkston, Georgia, and he's got big plans. The Fab Five have some things to say about his hippie tendencies, however, and a little bit of political restructuring is due. For one thing, Ted has never even hosted a dinner party. Enter Antoni, who is here to remind the young leader, and all of us, that sometimes nicely-executed minimalism is best. It's a good Queer Eye lesson to remember that less is often more and that putting your best foot forward doesn't require all the bells and whistles. Antoni definitely has our vote.
A lot of this show is rays of sunshine and daises and personal epiphanies and guacamole dishes, but a large part of the show revolves around resolution and reflection. Many of the heroes, like season three's Elrod, are working through life's many unpredictable and unfortunate twists and turns. Elrod's wife passed away from cancer. Over a beard trim, JVN shares he went through something similar with his step-dad and the two discuss that life doesn't stop to give you a grieving period and because of that we sometimes try to push it aside and pretend it doesn't exist. Jonathan reminds us that we can't glaze over our emotions or try to make them something they're not. It's okay to feel pain, to acknowledge it, and to share it, as long as we don't get trapped by it permanently. It does us a favor to remember that pain is a shared experience that we've all had to come to terms with in some way, shape, or form. The Fab Five are wonderful at helping their heroes through processing pain, grief, and other transformative emotions while sharing their own relatable experiences. We couldn't be more thankful for this Queer Eye lesson.
Season two hero, Sean, knows a thing or two about bedazzled jackets, but when the Fab Five meet this piano-playing young man in the episode, "Bedazzled," they quickly learn that after being home-schooled for some time, he has a lot to learn. Bobby hopes to help him develop a more adult-appropriate style in terms of decor, fashion, and more by giving him the college home of his dreams. We think this lesson could be applied to all sorts of things for people of all ages. The more you put yourself in better situations and nicer places and the kinder you are to your own home, your own belonging,s and yourself, the more you will develop your sense of what you value. We know that not everyone can afford the things or clothes they want, but it's still important to treat the things you own with care. Sometimes putting thought into your space helps reorganize your whole brain and outlook.
Season two episode, "Sky's the Limit," is an emotional one, and we're so thankful for it. Skyler, the hero of the episode, is a transgender man who just recently had top surgery. This is the Fab Five's first episode with a transgender hero, and some of them have some things to learn about the community and its place in the LGBTQ world. Tan discusses feeling ignorant about the Trans community and the struggles they face as a group and as individuals, and later, Karamo and Sky have a touching conversation about how sometimes we get so caught up in our own fights and plights that we forget how many people around us could use our advocacy. We love that the Fab Five are able to acknowledge their own faults in understanding others despite doing so much to help people on daily basis, and we love this Queer Eye lesson to not only always check on your neighbors, but to sit, listen and learn from them instead of making assumptions about their battles.
From the minute we met her on the season two episode, "God Bless Gay," we loved Mama Tammye and we loved her big heart. Mama is working on trying to make a local community center the best it can be for the residents of Gay, Georgia. As a teacher, a mother, an involved church member and more, she doesn't really have time to glam, and Jonathan reminds her that there's nothing wrong with that. Not everyone needs or wants an hour in the bathroom, a full face of makeup, or a dazzling ball gown, but that doesn't mean those people aren't fierce, gorgeous divas. We love that JVN consistently lets us know that it's not the glam that makes someone a diva, it's the attitude. This is a great Queer Eye lesson for those of us who are rolling into work with the same hair from two days ago or who are not dishing out to buy eyelash extensions are happy to remember this idea.
We're saving one of the best lessons for last with our season three hero, Jody. On the opening episode, "From Hunter to Huntee," we hear our hero say that she knows she's beautiful on the inside, but she doesn't feel that way on the outside. We've all been there, but it's a heartbreaking thing to hear being acknowledged out loud. Leave it to Karamo to remind her and the rest of us that we deserve love and acceptance not only from others but from ourselves. When we think about ourselves in these ways, we end up invalidating the idea that we're worthy of respect and admiration and love from others and ourselves. It's easier said than done, but changing our thinking can change it all. Bottom line: we deserve to be loved. That's a fact and our favorite Queer Eye lesson!