Netflix’s revival of the influential makeover show “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” — shortened just to “Queer Eye” for the reboot — debuted in February to universal acclaim. And while the reboot sparked its fair share of lighthearted debates (Can Antoni actually cook?), the Fab 5 will be back for a second season on Netflix.
The Fab 5, made up of food and wine connoisseur Antoni Porowski, interior design specialist Bobby Berk, culture expert Karamo Brown, grooming guru Jonathan Van Ness, and fashion ace Tan France, is returning to Georgia for another eight-episode order “to explore the unchartered territory of the south,” “Queer Eye” creator David Collins told Variety.
Following Netflix’s announcement on Monday that it was officially renewed for a second season, Variety talked with Berk and Collins about what to expect from upcoming episodes, what past heroes (the name given to the men whose lives are made-over by the Fab 5) are up to, and how long it actually takes Berk to decorate each house.
What have you learned from the first season that you’re applying to the new episodes?
Bobby Berk: These we actually shot right at the tail of the first season, so they’ve already been shot and they’re ready to go. There’s not anything we’ve learned since then because we did shoot these already.
David Collins: The cool part about it is our episodic heroes continue to be diverse and very interesting. The storylines continue to break down those conversations and surprise you. We get to see a lot of those new perspectives.
Berk: One of the things I’m most excited about for the new season is the continuation of diversity, even more so than the last season. Without giving anything away, with our heroes, you’re going to be seeing a lot more different people than you did the first time. A lot of people have been asking,”Why are you just working with straight guys?” Or we did have one gay guy. And I’m like, “Stay tuned for Season 2. You’ll see a lot more diversity.”
What topics are you looking to address this time around?
Berk: What I’ve become known for in Season 1 is religion and the, for lack of a better word, persecution we go through often as young gay people in the church and being told that we’re not right and we’re going to hell. That was a subject we briefly touched on in one of the episodes in the first season. Moving forward in Season 2, there is an episode that we really go in deep on religion. It’s going to be one that people are going to be very excited to see. Not only does it change a lot of our hearts, but you definitely see the hearts of people we’re working with change and you see the hearts of an entire religious community change.
Collins: What’s really then cool is the social media and the zeitgeist here on Netflix are the conversations that are happening. People are saying they are crying, and they’re crying because it’s touching a big part of them. It’s so authentic. What I really love about Bobby and the team is their journey, their week with each of the heroes, the ultimate goal is to give them the beautiful freedom to experience the journey with that hero and go through it with them.
On the episode where you address your religious upbringing, was that something you planned to discuss ahead of time?
Berk: When I first got cast, the one topic I told everyone was off limits was religion. It’s a very sensitive topic to me because, growing up, religion was my entire life. I lived and I breathed it. So no, it was not something I planned on talking about.
Why was it important that the show touches on topical issues, such as coming out and Black Lives Matter?
Berk: There is so much negativity in the world right now, and there’s so many people not having conversations because there’s so many people divided between the right and the left. Nobody is willing to listen to the other side. For us, it was really important to show and to set the example that the only way things are going to change is when two sides sit down and listen to each other.
Collins: It’s about hearing each other.
Bobby, in regards to your role on the show, how long does it take to renovate these homes?
Berk: Way less time than you’d actually think. We meet the guys on a Tuesday, and that’s the morning where you see us in the truck going to meet them. I usually get the house by about 4 in the afternoon on a Tuesday, and I have to get it back by 9 or 10 a.m. on Friday. So really quick.
How is that even possible to do it that fast?
Berk: There’s a bit of pre-planning that goes into it. I’m able to get window dimensions for window shades because that takes a little time to be ordered. Rough dimensions, so I know furniture-wise what I can get in there. But a lot of it is done that week. All the construction is done that week, all the installation, all the painting. Most of it really happens in those few days.
Will we get to see anyone from past episodes in upcoming seasons? Do we check in with anyone?
Berk: You mean to see what Tom is doing? Is he getting married or something?! [laughs].
Collins: Right now, there’s nothing like that on the schedule, but you never know, right? We love each and every one of our heroes. Who knows if we get to check back in with them or not?
Berk: For a little check-in for you, I can tell you that Tom, Neal, and Cory are all doing great. I talk to them on a weekly basis. Good ol’ Tom, I don’t know if it was a blessing or a curse that we got him a smartphone, ’cause boy does he like to use it now [laughs]. I was in Europe the last two weeks, and I would say every morning I woke up to a missed call or text from Tom in the middle of the night. And I’m like, “Tom, I am in Europe, there is a huge time difference here.” So cute, so cute.
While you were filming, could you tell any of the heroes would end up being fan-favorites?
Berk: To be honest, no we didn’t.
Collins: I don’t know if you know this or not: Tom really was the first episode we ever shot as well. So not only was it the first episode, but it was the first time the Fab 5 stepped into the world in their role on “Queer Eye.” What makes it so special is he was the guy who was so willing to have the conversation. He was so willing to listen. His openness and open heart and authentic self, that’s what made it work. We didn’t know he was gong to be a jump-out like that, but we did know our first episode was pretty darn special while we were making it.
Berk: I remember walking into that diner, walking out hand-in-hand with Tom, and it didn’t make the cut, but he looked over to me and said, “How long have you guys been doing this?” And I looked at my clock and said, “Well, about five minutes! You’re really our first baby, Tom!” Did we think it was going to be a breakout with Tom? No, because we had no idea what to expect. We hoped the world would see him the way we did.
What is the most surprising feedback you’ve gotten?
Berk: I had a preacher who reached out to me and said that he had seen the show and watched the Bobby Camp episode and that I had literally changed his entire view on homosexuality. His whole life, he had been taught and he thought that being gay was always a decision that had been made. And at some point in someone’s life, they decided, “I want to be gay.” To hear me say in that episode that I used to pray at that altar every day and beg and plead for God not to make me gay, a light came on. That made him realize, wow, people are born this way.
A ton of celebrities have been tweeting about the show. Was there anyone you were really excited to see was a fan?
Berk: Drew Barrymore. We were at an event in New York right after the show came out and Drew Barrymore looked at me and said, “Oh my god, I am such a fan.” And I was like, “What?!” And Pete Davidson from “SNL.” He was Insta-storying about us one night, and I messaged him and was like, “Hey, thank you so much for writing an Insta-story about us!” He instantly responded and was like, “I can’t believe you’re responding to me! Here’s my number, please text me! I want to be friends!” I was like, “Wait a minute, is this really Pete’s account? This can’t be real.” Him and I started texting, and the next day we went to lunch together with him and his girlfriend.
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