I try to pace myself when new episodes of Netflix’s Queer Eye hit the streaming service. Somehow, though, I’ve always hit the “Yes, I’m still watching” button, which leads to a finished viewing experience in less than one week’s time. The show is just too good and provides the positive emotions, healthy perspectives and building blocks of lasting change that viewers crave.
I’m betting a lot of you out there are like me: once a new season of affirmation and on-screen joy drops into your queue, you can’t stop watching! So, I’ve developed a list of my Five Fabulous Episodes of Queer Eye that I can turn to in between seasons to keep those good vibes going. These may not be the all-time best for everyone, or even the most emotionally astounding. My hope is that the cumulative effect of these episodes will give the feel of a mini-season of the best that Queer Eye can bring us!
Season One Episode Five: Camp Rules
I have a confession to make: at the beginning of season one, it was hard for my cynical brain to stop wondering if Johnathan Van Ness was overtly trying to be “the Carson” for this version of Queer Eye. In other words, I couldn’t tell if his big personality and bold statements were all an act to win viewers over via memorable moments, or whether his frequent proclamations of “gorgeous!” were genuinely meant.
Cut to an absolutely darling sequence in the middle of this episode in which Johnathan, Antoni and Tan take Bobby (the episode’s subject) and a couple of his kids shopping at Target.
The veil of my cynicism was lifted. Throughout that precious shopping montage I realized that this bubbly personality really was Johnathan Van Ness! As he shopped with the kids, joking and praising them in fun and affirming ways, I was able to completely give myself over to the new Queer Eye’s ethos: this show really could be about positively impacting people through warmth and authenticity.
Now, of course, I’ve fully embraced Johnathan as a person through his role on this show, and I’m addicted to his gymnastics-and-skating-packed Instagram stories!
Season Two Episode One: God Bless Gay
If any episode could be described as the quintessential spirit of Queer Eye, I think it’s this one.
The transformation of this episode is twofold: Mama Tammye and her son, Miles, get the pampering, attention and emotional support that they need throughout the week as they prepare for Tammye’s church’s Homecoming service. But Tammye also has a special impact on the Fab Five—especially Bobby.
Bobby appears reluctant to even step into church buildings at the start of the episode because he experienced a lot of harm tied to his personal church background after coming out. His own emotional growth through the process of renovating the church hall makes this episode extra compelling.
In addition to its authentic empowerment through makeovers, Queer Eye also takes on the hefty task of trying to bridge harsh cultural divides in our culture through radical empathy.
In God Bless Gay, Tammye stands out as one of the show’s brightest examples of standing up against divisiveness. She is able to illustrate in her own special way that faith and affirmation of LGBTQIA people needn’t be exclusive to one another, and the result is beautiful.
Season Two Episode Two: A Decent Proposal
This episode is just fun! The makeover-ee, William, wants to marry his girlfriend, Shannan. He needs the Fab Five’s help to make their home a truly shared space and pull off a romantic proposal!
This episode earns a spot in my personal top five for two reasons. First: it’s one of many that demonstrates a Queer Eye truth—the way a beard is trimmed and styled can make a world of difference for pretty much any beard-having person!
More importantly, the proposal scene is wonderful. William’s homemade movie for Shannan is a bit dorky in the BEST way, and it’s the kind of vulnerable grand gesture that makes my romance-loving heart flutter.
Season Three Episode Five: Black Girl Magic
This is one of those episodes that hits home for a variety of reasons. In Black Girl Magic, the Fab Five work with Jess, a young black woman whose adoptive family severed ties when she came out to them as a lesbian. One of the things that makes this episode powerful is its emphasis on found and chosen families. The team facilitates an emotionally significant reunion between Jess and her older biological sister. However, it’s just as important that Jess lives with and spends her time around other LGBTQIA folks and affirming people who support her on her own journey.
Since the episode aired, Jess has also made online connections with her favorite musician, Janelle Monae, and real-life connections with Mama Tammye of Queer Eye season two (No, I’m not crying, you’re crying!!).
Season Four Episode Five: On Golden Kenny
On the surface, this episode seems like any other average installment of Queer Eye. Kenny is an older gentleman who lives alone and was nominated by his sister and her daughters. As the episode unfolded, Kenny and his story wiggled their way into my heart.
This seemingly ordinary episode makes a big splash because, in my opinion, it showcases how American masculinity rarely provides social codes about how to seek connection, maintain relationships and cultivate meaningful self-care behaviors (“This is why I insist you have your own friends!” I alarmingly cried out to my husband as the episode progressed).
After years of relative isolation in his dated home, the Queer Eye folks help him take control of his home and his relationships with family members.
Turn on this episode for the emotional breakthroughs about belonging in a family and community. Stay for the tear-jerking dog adoption scene that gives Kenny a renewed sense of purpose!
As I’ve said: my top five list may not be your top five list. Perhaps you’re a die-hard fan of Kansas City’s Jones Sisters BBQ or you couldn’t look away from the jaw-dropping one-on-one meeting that happened in Queer Eye’s season four premiere. Whatever the case, I do hope this list has inspired you to go back and re-watch this sweet li’l reality program when you’re in need of something positive!