They were called the “Fab Five” — a group of five gay men, so-called experts in matters of fashion, grooming, culture, cuisine and interior design, who starred on Bravo’s popular makeover show “Queer Eye” from 2003 to 2007. Originally called “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” (the title shrunk after season 3), the reality series winked at — and detractors would say helped validate — the stereotype that all gay guys are somehow instinctively stylish and straight slobs are in need of guidance.
Now the show is back, this time on Netflix, and set in the South with five new gay guides to a sleeker lifestyle. Their new mantra?
“The original show was fighting for tolerance — our fight is for acceptance,” the show’s fashion expert, Tan France, says in the first of eight episodes, which premiere Wednesday, Feb. 7.
The guys don’t shy from controversy. In one scene, their makeover subject, truck driver Tom Jackson, is curious when he learns design expert Bobby Berk is married.
“Are you the husband or the wife?” he asks.
“That is . . . ,” says Berk, choosing his words carefully, “a misconception.”
A discussion commences on the nuances of same-sex relationships, but it’s still a bit murky. “We both wear the pants in the family,” Berk summarizes.
That Jackson gets.
Such candid conversation distinguishes the show from its predecessor.
Here are the new Fab Five, with classic quotes from the season:
TAN FRANCE (fashion) A British-born fashion entrepreneur. “I’m sorry, but there’s no way that’s acceptable anywhere other than — God, I don’t even know where you’d wear that.”
JONATHAN VAN NESS (grooming) A hairstylist with a gone-viral web series (“Gay of Thrones”) and a penchant for flinging his hair about. “How you take care of yourself is how the world sees you.”
KARAMO BROWN (culture) A single dad, and the first openly gay black man on MTV’s “The Real World.” “I need [the makeover subject] to learn from me and I need to learn from him.”
ANTONI POROWSKI (food/wine) Canadian-born protégé and eventual personal chef of original “QE” foodie (and current Food Network star) Ted Allen. “Introducing things that are fresh into [one’s] diet — that’s so simple.”
BOBBY BERK (design) An interior designer and former creative director at Portico Home & Spa. “[He’s] really stuck in time in this space — it’s the room of a 12-year-old.”