Queer Eye needs to return, and other things we learned from the Fab Five’s reunion

The cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy reunited on Bravo last night, and although it was an Andy Cohen-hosted reunion with all of its usual annoyances, the hour offered a lot of insight, and made one thing exceedingly clear: Bravo needs to resurrect this show, now.

With a few exceptions, Bravo has been mired in a swamp of asshole-fueled reality shows, and what it really needs is the joy, positivity, and authenticity that Queer Eye brought to the network–and helped define the network as a home of smart reality TV.

Carson Kressley, Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, and Jai Rodriguez proved during the reunion that TV still needs them. As Jai pointed out, “There is something magical when the five of us get together.” It’s all about the chemistry, and the reunion demonstrated that they still have it–and it may even be stronger now.

It was also very real, full of actual transformations and genuine emotion. Talking about the episode where the Fab Five help a man transition to life without his toupee, Carson cited the show’s “really authentic moments” and said it communicated to people that “there’s nothing wrong with being 100 percent you.”

It’s probably impossible to recreate the original series, and it certainly won’t be the cultural phenomenon it once was. The show was groundbreaking, and five gay guys helping and bonding with straight guys wouldn’t have the same awe factor. But the format still has life, especially if it’s updated.

There are lots of ways to play with the show’s format: Make over gay men who, counter to stereotypes, aren’t great at managing their lives, homes, or appearance. Make over the lives of guys who really excel at one thing–say, dressing well–but completely fail in other areas, such as maintaining their homes. Find couples who need help.

Andy Cohen actually asked them at the end if they’d considering bringing back the show, and Ted said, “Not a chance.” While he does have the most high-profile job now, as the host of Chopped, it wasn’t clear if he was joking or not, because he soon joined in the general appreciation their chemistry and the experience. And honestly, as good as he is on Chopped, it underuses him and his wit tremendously.

So, Bravo, do the world a favor and rediscover what once made your network great. Bring back Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Besides proving that the show needs to return, the reunion also offered a lot of interesting information and insight about the show. Here’s what we learned:

  • The title was controversial even among the cast. “We actually had a debate with the creators of the show … trying to get them to change it. I didn’t like the name of the show,” Ted Allen said, adding that “the word ‘queer’ had such a heavy political connotation.”
  • The Fab Five still rock the double entendre. For example, Ted Allen recalled being on The Today Show: “I watched Matt Lauer trying to wrap his mouth around the word queer.”
  • The show helped the Fab Five come out to family members. “It took something like a makeover show for me to actually be honest with who I was,” Carson said, “and be empowered and get over that fear that your family’s not going to love you for who you are.” Ted Allen said his casting “forced me to come out to” family members.
  • Andy Cohen can ask a decent question! One of those was about whether the show “perpetuates stereotypes” or challenges them. Ted and Carson answered: “both.”
  • Going through the straight guys’ homes–usually the best part of the episode–stayed with Jai after the show wrapped. He said, “I couldn’t stop doing” going through drawers at peoples’ houses.
  • Kyan said fame was “terrifying. … I don’t think you really understand what anonymity is until its gone.”
  • Carson tasting Anal-Ese is still funny.
  • Ted reminded us that the show initially aired in a very different era: “That was back in the day when people bought porn magazines.”
  • About their frat house visit, Carson said, “I still have fantasies.”
  • At least one straight guy was not entirely straight: Jai said, “let’s not ruin any marriages or anything” but said he was hit on by “a dude who made it clear that he was a little more flexible.”
  • Jai and Thom made out–in the back of a white van. Thom said, “Was it me?” Jai said, “We were drunk.” This was news to the other guys, because when Andy Cohen initially asked whether any of them had hooked up, Carson said, “That would be like incest.”
  • Carson and Thom knew each other before they were cast because they each went to the same gym.
  • The Fab Five’s hair was terrifying.
  • Carson got naked–“nude,” he prefers–more than once. Thom said he’s seen Carson’s genitalia “more than I’ve seen my own.”
  • Kyan shaved Carson’s taint during the episode when Carson got naked and ran around.
  • Pleated khakis are still a terrible idea.

The Sing-Off loses its star

Ben Folds

NBC's super-fun December a capella singing competition The Sing-Off is returning, but without its star judge, Ben Folds, and only as a two-hour special. Those are really depressing changes for a series that proved itself to be a super-fun show when it returned last December.


A film director talks about becoming a reality TV character

Anna Martemucci

What is it like to have your life turned into reality TV? Director Anna Martemucci, one of the two directors featured on Starz' exceptional reality series, talks about that, the competition, and her collaboration with her husband and brother-in-law.

Plus: How the show's producers tried to keep the $250,000 competition fair.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.