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‘Queer Eye’ Editor Thomas Reuther on Finding Inspiration in the ‘Make Better’ Show

Before Netflix’s “Queer Eye” reboot, Thomas Reuther was working on a show about death and loss (“Killing Fields”). “It was bumming me out,” he says. But now, Reuther, a supervising editor on the show, says he has been inspired by its “make better” attitude. “When I come into work every day and see the Fab Five up on my screen, I [say], ‘I’m going to make some positive changes in my life,’” he says.

How do you decide what makes it into an episode?

You have a pretty good idea of what happened [while filming], but it’s not until you start to cut everything together before you understand what the tone is going to be. … We look at it and realize some moments aren’t landing and some moments need to be expanded upon because they just connect so well with people.

What are the most important elements in capturing each episode’s tone?

There’s a lot of skill in learning how to let the characters be who they are. … The Fab Five listen to each character and try to understand them. We understood with the deeper emotional element that we had a big responsibility to really portray it like that instead of it being quick and you’re on to the next character.

Did anything surprise you while you were putting the first season together?

The one thing we assumed going into it was, “This is going to be on Netflix. People are going to be allowed to swear. We might really be able to push the boundaries with the conversations the Fab Five are having with these characters.” Once we started to get into the edits, they didn’t swear as much as we thought they were going to swear. They were much more emotional, they connected to these people more than I thought they would. It was really a pleasant surprise to understand the tone of the show was more of hope and acceptance than just the shock value. It was more than a bunch of dudes showing up in Georgia and pointing out everyone’s differences. They were five great guys who were accepted everywhere they went, and accepted everyone they met.

Were there any moments you knew would right away would be meaningful?

One of our executive producers really fought to keep a conversation with Tom Jackson, Jonathan Van Ness and Bobby Berk about gay marriage. Tom had asked Bobby, “Who is the wife in the situation?” Jonathan laughs and says, “Hey, let’s unpack that.” That was a conversation nobody was sure what to really do with at first. Should we put it in, should we take it out? Our executive producer really fought to keep it in. To him, there was no question about it — that needs to stay in the episode.

What’s the hardest part about your job?

A lot of it is a mental game. You may know what buttons to push, but you have to develop the skills to know when to push them. You have to know when to back off and let the barricade stand on its own. That’s one of the biggest tricks to learn — when to let these characters just be who they are without a great cutaway shot or song or transition. Just hear what they have to say.

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