pop culture phenomena

PHOTOS: These old & new ‘Queer Eye’ pics remind us why we loved & still love the show so much

It’s a year of milestones for the Queer Eye franchise: the Netflix revival recently released a seventh season and the original Bravo series is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Can you believe?!

If you’re new here, the show’s concept is simple: The “Fab Five,” a group of high-powered gays versed in the realms of food, grooming, fashion, design, and culture, spend a week lending their expertise to someone in desperate need of an overhaul.

If there’s one thing gay people think they can do better than anyone else, it’s everything — so it’s no surprise both iterations have become pop culture phenomena. 

When the 2003 incarnation (which bore the wordier title of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) premiered, it quickly became the most-watched series in Bravo history. And it didn’t take long for the leading quintet– err, queer-tet of Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, Ted Allen, Jai Rodriguez, and Kyan Douglas to reach celebrity status.

The Fab Five were suddenly EVERYWHERE: late-night shows, the Emmys, South Park spoofs, and even the 2003 VMAs, where they presented an award to Beyoncé and can be seen losing their sh*t when Madonna kissed Britney and Xtina. Same, tbh.

When the show ended after five seasons in 2007, it left behind a legacy of queer representation beyond stereotypes, an anti-pleated khaki agenda, and the absolute bop of a theme song that it is Widelife and Simone Denny’s “All Things (Just Keep Getting Better”)

Yes, there were moments of over-the-top flamboyance and the old episodes (which are nearly absent from the internet) look like they were filmed on a potato by today’s standards. But the hosts’ brazen confidence and genuine heart helped pave the way for LGBTQ+ acceptance in the United States, alongside contemporaries like Will and Grace, Queer as Folk, and The L Word, which were all recently rebooted. Speaking of which….

A new Fab Five was recruited for Netflix’s Queer Eye in 2018, building upon the premise by taking its advisors to traditionally conservative states like Georgia, Missouri, and Texas to help out a diverse group of subjects.

And it hasn’t taken long for stars Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Karamo Brown, and Tan France to become as iconic as their predecessors. From music video appearances, to stumping for President Biden, snatching Emmys, and a hilarious Big Mouth parody, all things continue to keep getting better for this Fab Five. Only now, Betty Who is singing.

Whether it’s your fave show to cry to (or your mom’s), we’ve got to thank Queer Eye for furthering acceptance for the LGBTQ+ community across generations –– and helping heteros dress better.

Click through for 25 pics of both Fab Fives and some of Queer Eye‘s most iconic moments…

It’s time that the experts take over

'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy' stars Jai Rodriguez, Ted Allen, Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, and Kyan Douglas stand smiling with their arms around each other in front of a hotel.

The category is button-down shirts! Queer Eye for the Straight Guy introduced us to Jai Rodriguez, Ted Allen, Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, and Kyan Douglas when the Bravo series premiered in 2003.

A makeover fit for late night

Ted Allen, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez sit on a couch making funny faces with a "Fab 5" sign backstage at 'The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.'

The OG Fab Five had their work cut out for them when they gave Jay Leno and his soundstage a makeover on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. Thankfully, they’re (obviously) professionals.

The new Fab Five was unveiled

Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Tan France and Antoni Porowski pose on the red carpet for the 'Queer Eye' premiere.

Ta dum! (That’s the Netflix sound.) The streamer debuted Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Tan France, and Antoni Porowski as the new Fab Five when Queer Eye premiered in 2018.

All we can say is, “LIZA!”

Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, Liza Minnelli, Jai Rodriguez, and Ted Allen pose for a picture backstage at VH1's Big in 2003 Awards.

While Liza Minnelli certainly does not need to be Queer Eye-d, she posed with these effusive gays backstage at VH1’s Big in 2003 Awards.

When Tom Jackson stole our hearts

Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Jonathan Van Ness, Antoni Porowoski, and Tan France sit at an outdoor picnic table talking to Tom Jackson in an episode of 'Queer Eye.'

Retired FedEx worker Tom Jackson stole our hearts in the series premiere of Netflix‘s Queer Eye, where he introduced us to his ex-wife Abby, Redneck Margaritas, and his big ol’ soft side.

Jackson sadly passed away at 63 after a battle with cancer earlier this year. According to his obituary, “A highlight of Tom’s life was being cast on the Netflix show … He enjoyed the notoriety and shared his experience with whoever would listen!” Rest in peace, Tom.

These opening credits were *so* early 2000’s

Jai Rodriguez, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, Ted Allen, and Kyan Douglas walk down an animated street wearing sunglasses in the opening credits for 'Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.'

Meet us at the corner of Gay Street and Straight Street! From flip phones to dramatic moments with sunglasses, the Bravo series’ opening credits served the perfect amount of cheese.

These gurls stay goofy

Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Jonathan Van Ness make goofy faces while posing on the red carpet at a Netflix event.

It’s impossible to catch Karamo Brown from a bad angle… even when the photographers say, “Now let’s do a funny one!”

The crew posed together at an event for Netflix, who recently launched Queer Eye spinoffs in both Germany and Brazil.

You’re a winner, baby!

Ted Allen, Jai Rodriguez, Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, and Kyan Douglas smile holding Emmy statuettes at the 2004 ceremony.

These boys cleaned up nice for the 2004 Emmys, where Queer Eye for the Straight Guy won Outstanding Reality Program.

And then there was Cher

Ted Allen poses with his arms around Cher alongside Jai Rodriguez, Thom Filicia, and Carson Kressley on the red carpet at the 'Stuck on You' premiere.

Remember when Cher played herself in Stuck on You, that 2003 comedy about conjoined twins taking on the entertainment industry? Neither do we, but the Fab Five (who, it seems, were invited to everything in the early aughts) got a pic at the premiere.

Where’s the makeover episode?

Ted Allen, Jai Rodriguez, Thom Filicia, Hillary Clinton, Kyan Douglas, and Carson Kressley smile and pose for a photo backstage at an event.

The Fab Five and Hillary Clinton met backstage at a 2004 benefit. Maybe she should have recruited them to be her running mates?

The most chaotic Queer Eye crossover

The Osbourne family, Lindsay Lohan, and Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Kyan Douglas smile in different directions for a chaotic group photo on the 2004 Grammys red carpet.

This is the kind of red carpet photo that could only exist in 2004. At the Grammys, we got a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Osbournes, and Lindsay Lohan mashup we didn’t know we needed.

This one was a tearjerker

Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Jonathan Van Ness, Skyler Jay, Bobby Berk, and Karamo Brown sit around a coffee table talking about Jay's transformation in an episode of 'Queer Eye.'

The Fab Five helped their first-ever transgender guest in “Sky’s the Limit” on Queer Eye Season 2. Skyler Jay, a trans man in Georgia who recently had top surgery, recruited the team to assist in sprucing up his apartment and planning a party for friends.

Though some members of the trans community considered the episode “problematic,” Jay revealed the guys were “even better than what you get to see on TV” in an interview with Them. “I felt like that entire week, I spent it with my community, with my brothers,” he said. “I feel like I’m a part of this really beautiful thing.”

Smoky eye for the straight guy

Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Jonathan Van Ness smile for the cameras at Elton John's 2020 Oscars viewing party.

Smoky eye shadow? Black bowties? An off-the-shoulder gown? Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, and Jonathan Van Ness sported Rocket Man-worthy looks at Elton John’s 2020 Academy Awards viewing party.

The Bravo original is turning 20 –– feel old yet?

Thom Filicia, Ted Allen, Carson Kressley, Kyan Douglas, and Jai Rodriguez pose for a photo on the red carpet.

Trends have changed in the two decades since Queer Eye for the Straight Guy premiered on Bravo, but the waves it made for LGBTQ+ representation are timeless. “[The show was] one part of a bigger wheel [of change] that was happening [in the 2000s],” Filicia told Us in 2022. “And I think we had a great hand in sort of helping move that forward.”

Now That’s What I Call the 2000’s!

Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez smile for the cameras at the premiere of 'Monster-in-Law' in 2005.

The embroidered jeans! The Converse! The sheer number of necklaces! Put this photo of Carson Kressley and Jai Rodriguez at the 2005 Monster-in-Law premiere in a history museum.

It’s giving Emmys

Karamo Brown, Tan France, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van Ness pose regally on the Emmys red carpet.

Like the Bravo original, Netflix‘s Queer Eye has also been an Emmy fave, with 10 trophies and counting. The gay agenda STAYS winning!

All things just keep getting better!

Kyan Douglas, Carson Kressley, Thom Filicia, and Jai Rodriguez smile on the red carpet at the 2018 premiere of 'Queer Eye.'

We’d know these faces anywhere! Four members of the original Fab Five came to support the next generation at the 2018 Queer Eye series premiere.

We’re in Japan!

Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, and Karamo Brown listen over a Japanese dinner as a women talks to them about cultural differences in 'Queer Eye: We're in Japan!'

In 2019, Queer Eye took their expertise to Tokyo for a four-episode spinoff. Despite a language barrier and the occasional culture clash, We’re in Japan! helped highlight the bond that brings LGBTQ+ people together, no matter where they live.

The Mr. Straight Guy Pageant

Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Jai Rodriguez, Carson Kressley, and Ted Allen dance onstage in front of a sparkly curtain during 'Queer Eye's "Mr. Straight Guy Pageant."

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy finished with a bang in 2007 as the Fab Five hosted the first (and only) “Mr. Straight Guy Pageant.” The event brought back 25 past participants who competed in categories like speed shaving and cake decorating in hopes of winning the title of “Ultimate Straight Guy.”

Putting the “fab” in “Fab Five”

Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France, Bobby Berk, and Jonathan Van Ness smile at a Netflix red carpet event.

A whole new generation learned that the gays just do it better, thanks to Netflix‘s Queer Eye.

The queens of barbecue

Bobby Berk, Tan France, and Jonathan Van Ness watch Mary and Deborah Jones' reactions as the revamped Jones Bar-B-Q restaurant was unveiled on a 2019 episode of 'Queer Eye.'

Kansas City BBQ restaurant Jones Bar-B-Q –– and its iconic pitmasters Mary and Deborah Jones –– got a makeover in this ESPECIALLY cathartic Queer Eye episode.

Not only is the spot still thriving (and often selling out early), but the sisters now sell their patently delectable sauce online, thanks to help from the guys. “The Fab Five were the biggest blessing for us and our family,” they wrote on Instagram in 2022.

Because shade never made anybody less gay

Todrick Hall, Taylor Swift, Karamo Brown, Bobby Berk, Antoni Porowski, and Jonathan Van Ness pose in flamboyant outfits in front of an RV on the set of the "You Need to Calm Down" music video.

The stars of Queer Eye showed up to spill the tea –– literally –– in Taylor Swift’s music video for pro-LGBTQ+ single “You Need to Calm Down.” While the saccharine song wasn’t universally acclaimed, the Fab Five served nothing but fabulousness.

Tan France even thanked the singer for her support, telling Insider that she was a “powerful ally.”

The new and old guard

Kyan Douglas, Jonathan Van Ness, Bobby Berk, Thom Filicia, Antoni Porowski, Carson Kressley, Tan France, Jai Rodriguez, and Karamo Brown stand together for a group photo at the 2018 'Queer Eye' premiere.

The original Fab Five (minus Ted Allen) posed alongside the reboot’s newly crowned experts at the Queer Eye series premiere, making for the gayest family photo ever.

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  • strix1

    “We?” We do? I watched 1 ep of the reboot and did not enjoy it…seemed patronizing. The original I enjoyed at the time because it was new and mindlessly entertaining but it started going downhill before it ended. But “we” DON’T still love the show.

    • Terry

      Same. To me, it feels very fake and “extra”, with WeHo narcissists competing for attention. I loved that the original felt just “everyday” and relaxed.

  • crazyoldman

    Quit watching them a couple of years ago when they started with pop psychology.

  • Tiredoftheinsanity

    The remake is not nearly as much fun as the original…some things are best left as originals only. Ths is one of them.

  • sicil1

    Sorry to say, the remake sucks big time, so “we” are not watching. I find only one of the five “experts” even half-way likable.

Comments are closed.