I hate myself for this, but I’m ranking the episodes of the new Queer Eye season from least to most watchable

Queer Eye is, to borrow a term from my Tumblr days, my problematic fave. Yes, the Fab Five love to look down their noses at socialism and some of their actions in past episodes indicate that they really don’t get what it’s like to be poor, but after 100+ days of not leaving my home for more than a few minutes a day, not seeing my friends and not watching a hockey game, I am in desperate need of some brainless streaming pablum.

This season of Queer Eye was longer than usual, with 10 heroes, but I watched the whole thing in one sitting because what the shit else am I going to do? Here are this season’s episodes ranked from least entertaining to most entertaining. At the bottom, I also have my all-time ranking (albeit with no elaborations) for the Queer Eye heroes.

I’ll note that my rankings are a mix of my impressions of the heroes themselves with how the Fab Five handles them. In some cases, an otherwise decent hero’s episode is rendered extremely awkward by a certain culture expert wedging his way into their personal affairs, for example.

Anyway, here are the season’s episodes from least to most watchable.

10. Ryan / DJ’s On Repeat

Ryan’s episode reminds me of John from Season 4, but without the adorable daughter or Antoni losing his shit over corgis. Just as John’s social media indicates that he’s largely gone back to his party guy ways (and really, his episode showed that John was in it for little more than the free wardrobe and home makeover), in only a few days Ryan’s been exposed for basically going back to the same ol’ style as before. And unlike John, he’s revealed himself to actually be a bit of a tool.

It’s a shame, because Ryan’s episode seems fine — there’s something about it that actually feels like it belongs in the original Queer Eye, including the fact that the “Jersey shore party guy” trope was a big talking point at the time the original series was on. But because this is Queer Eye for the new decade, it’s got a bit more heart, and frames Ryan’s vanity and insecurity more as toxic masculinity than anything. His devotion to his family also softens him for viewers. But it’s difficult to remove the context of Ryan’s pretty public lack of long-term transformation from the episode.

9. Abby / The Anxious Activist

Abby was certainly appealing to me on a personal level, as a hero. She’s one of the youngest heroes ever made over, and unlike Season 3’s Thomas, Abby seems like less of a dud and more open-minded. And Abby manages to get in some good tidbits that make her agenda clear — that environmentalism is a corporate and governance problem and can’t be solved by individuals (yay Abby)!

Perhaps one the main reason Abby is less appealing as a subject is that she really doesn’t need all that much help to begin with. Abby’s extremely pretty and her style, while casual, isn’t tragic. She’s also at a time in her life — and living in an environment — where we probably shouldn’t expect her to have a more established sense of style and decor. As far as student houses go, Abby’s house is actually far from the worst I’ve seen. What few glaring issues Abby seems to have — some obvious social anxiety and an inability to balance work and life — should be solved by counselling and probably not a makeover. Additionally, Abby being a vegan left Antoni severely restricted in the kitchen, since he gravitates mostly toward meats and cheeses, and the dish he led her through was completely uninspired.

8. Noah / Preaching Out Loud

Poor Noah. He’s a sweet man and seems like a wonderful pastor. But the episode just feels so uneventful. Noah’s physical makeover is up there with Abby’s as one of the least drastic. The church makeover, meanwhile, felt gaudy and unwelcoming, and the community space looked cheap. Noah’s lessons about coming out, however, were great and it would have been wonderful to see the episode expand on how he’s helped the youth of his church.

In fact, for being such an accepting and progressive church about to celebrate a milestone (150-year) anniversary, we don’t really go into the history of Noah’s church much. He gets a brief and overly obvious lesson about social media for the church, but it takes up approximately 30 seconds of the episode, while most of the other church-adjacent segments are focused on rehashing Bobby’s story of rejection from his church — which we’ve heard every season now (note: Bobby’s feelings about religion are valid, but it does feel like he’s pulling focus from the heroes).

7. Nate / Body Rock or Bust

Nate’s episode gets points for being one of the only Queer Eye episodes on the map for mentioning gentrification and in fact for making gentrification a theme in the episode. It only makes you wonder why it hasn’t been a greater focus for past episodes that focused on activists who have clearly done a lot of work for their neighbourhood. Maybe because Queer Eye has probably actually spent a lot of its episodes fawning over gentrifier boutiques and hair salons. Just a thought (I’d long for Bobby Berk to have an “are we the baddies?” moment).

Nate is charming, handsome and has all the great makings of a Queer Eye hero. One of the reasons his episode failed to make much of an impression is simply because he doesn’t seem to dig the makeover as much as others. If I had to guess, I’d say Nate seems to know that some of his issues — the gentrification of his neighbourhood, his financial future — aren’t solved with a makeover. He’d be perfectly correct if these were his feelings, by the way. Anyway, Nate seems to actually make a low-key grossed-out face at the reveal of his new gym lobby, which is equal parts funny and cringeworthy. His ex-girlfriend seems more into the makeover than he is, which makes this episode one of the most uncomfortable kinds of episodes — the kind where it feels like the makeover is more for the nominator than the hero (see Season 3’s Thomas, Season 4’s John).

6. Lilly / Paging Dr. Yi

Lilly really could easily be last on this list, but she’s charming and sweet enough that at least she keeps you tuned in for the whole episode. Plus, her daughter might be the cutest kid ever featured on Queer Eye. Like Abby and Noah, the biggest problem with Lilly is that she really doesn’t need much of a makeover. Sure, Lilly’s spent the last 11 years wrapped up more in her education than anything else and might need a kickstart on the whole “style” thing, and her apartment has just been moved into, but that doesn’t necessarily warrant the Fab Five’s help.

One of the things that makes Lilly a less interesting story is that as a physician, Lilly’s less limited financially than some of the other heroes. Having Tan take her to an incredibly glamorous boutique to shop high-fashion brands feels more out of a fantasy than reality, whereas the more working class women on the season get more practical fashion advice. At the very least, Lilly’s makeover is awesome and her loft looks amazing, although it does feature my least favourite home makeover feature — overly mature toddler rooms. But the living room makes up for it.

5. Jennifer / Silver Lining Sweeney

Jennifer’s makeover was at least interesting to me because her shape and lifestyle remind me of my mother, so I was actually taking notes during the episode. The Fab Five made some great choices for Jennifer and her family, and the segments that focused on Jennifer’s husband’s illness were genuinely emotional (and in fact terrifying — knowing your partner is living well past their expectancy is a great deal of stress to carry around).

But Jennifer still ranks lower than other heroes because frankly she just isn’t all that interesting as a hero and is in fact a little grating (even if she’s perfectly nice). She comes across as overbearing and at times dopey, which undercuts the more serious elements of the episode. It was nice, however, to see Bobby integrate some of Jennifer’s tackier tastes into the home makeover and make them work. And, thanks to this episode, I learned that I shouldn’t put my hair in a ponytail when it’s wet. So there’s that.

4. Marcos / Father Knows Fish

Can Season 6 of Queer Eye please feature an intervention episode for Karamo in which the Fab Four teach him about boundaries? Marcos is actually probably the sweetest and most charming hero of the season, and the makeover he gets seems to actually respect his personal tastes and his pre-established style. And the naming and opening of his restaurant is a sweet and compelling process to watch.

But oh man, the scenes in which he reunites with his eldest daughter are uncomfortable. Much like Wesley’s meeting with the person who shot him in Season 4, these scenes feel exploitative and as a viewer you can only hope that the shock on the heroes’ faces are feigned and that they were actually made aware of the reunions and consented to them. It is very clear from Marcos and his daughter’s various conversations that their conflict stems from a cultural issue that the Fab Five are not equipped to solve. This type of healing usually takes years and a lot of therapy (which not all families have access to) and it feels inauthentic for the Fab Five to leave Marcos and his family high and dry after.

And, on a less serious note, the restaurant makeover is not great — it’s far too dark and doesn’t make good use of the space.

3. Tyreek / The North Philadelphia Story

Tyreek’s story feels like a slightly less exploitative version of Wesley’s story from the previous season. He’s a former troubled kid whose past screams “inspiration porn!” to the Fab Five. And, like Wesley and Marcos, Tyreek has to deal with Karamo trying to fix his interpersonal relationships. Fortunately, it goes well, but geez, Karamo is on a kick this year.

Like Wesley, Tyreek is helped by the fact that he’s really sweet and fun. He’s also a bit more refreshing because he seems to resist the inspiration porn narrative himself. He’s still young, so he’s focused on simply getting his life in order. It helps the show feel like more of a straight-up makeover show than a preachy source of inspiration porn. Tyreek’s makeover looks great because he’s handsome and is actually willing to be bold with his style, and Jonathan actually brings in the right experts for Tyreek’s hair. However, the section about how to recover from his identity theft is one of the most awkwardly wedged-in pieces of sponcon the show has ever had.

2. Rahanna / Groomer Has It

Rahanna is the highest woman on the list, but her episode is a strange one. At some points, Rahanna is pure joy. Her makeover is fresh, airy and fun, because Rahanna is beautiful and clearly has a sense of fun. And her overwhelming excitement at her new doggie grooming van is an emotional high-point of the episode. Plus, I think it’s noteworthy that we see Rahanna go to Old Navy and build looks out of clothes most people can afford.

But there are also elements of Rahanna’s episode that are downright depressing — her boyfriend, Josh, is an admitted cheater, and also frankly is dull as dirt. His conversations with Karamo reveal a man with almost zero personality and seemingly no love for his girlfriend. And during the climax of the episode, he can barely muster up a smile for his hard-working partner. It feels depressing to watch Rahanna come so far in the episode and then know that the Fab Five have left her with Josh the dud — but I hope when she inevitably kicks him out that she is comforted by her fabulous new space.

1. Kevin / Father of the Bride

What is it about the Fab Five that sees them do their best work — and most emotional episodes — on older single men? I was expecting Kevin, who looks like a chubby Ron Perlman and has an affinity for shorts that look like swim trunks, to open his mouth and sound more like Season One’s MAGA-jerk Cory, but instead he instantly reveals himself to be a sweet dork, a crybaby and a doting dad.

Kevin’s physical makeover, like Rahanna’s, is my favourite because it’s actually attainable and practical and easy to stick to. I do like that unlike last season’s heartstring-pulling old dude, Kenny, he wasn’t outfitted just in Mr. Rogers-type sweaters that aged him up too much. Instead, they aim to make him more of a DILF (their words, not mine, but Kevin adorably thinks the D stands for “dude” anyway). Side note: if Kevin and Ryan are any indication, the Fab Five are on an earth tones kick for men this season and I am 100% for it.

Anyway, this episode has all the elements of a great Queer Eye episode — a likeable hero, a practical makeover, a nominator whose motivations seem selfless, a home makeover that doesn’t look like an Article showroom and an actual interesting Antoni recipe.

Ranking the episodes/heroes from least to most watchable.

Like with my ranking of this season, these recommendations are based not fully on the likeability of the heroes themselves, but on the overall packaging of the episode — were the Fab Five helpful, or obnoxiously tone-deaf (William who is fully aware that there are holes in his shirt)? Did the person even really need a makeover (Rob the single dad who was doing just fine)? Did they deserve one (Cory the cop who loves Trump and pranking black people)? And so forth.

46. Cory (Season 1)

45. Joe (Season 1)

44. Ryan (Season 5)

44. Matt (Season 4)

42. John (Season 4)

41. Sean (Season 2)

40. Kathi (Season 4)

39. Rob (Season 3)

38. Thomas (Season 3)

37. Makoto (Japan)

36. Jeremy (Season 1)

35. Tony (Season 3)

34. William (Season 2)

33. Abby (Season 5)

32. Ted (Season 2)

31. Noah (Season 5)

30. Nate (Season 5)

29. Lilly (Season 5)

28. Brandonn (Season 4)

27. Arian (Season 2)

26. Kae (Japan)

25. Jennifer (Season 5)

24. Bobby (Season 1)

23. Skyler (Season 2)

22. Remy (Season 1)

21. Marcos (Season 5)

20. Wesley (Season 4)

19. Yoko (Japan)

18. Jason (Season 2)

17. Tyreek (Season 5)

16. Tom (Season 1)

15. Rahanna (Season 5)

14. Jody (Season 3)

13. Wanda (Season 4)

12. Joey (Season 3)

11. DeAnna (Season 4)

10. Jones BBQ (Season 3)

9. Kan (Japan)

8. Robert (Season 3)

7. Kenny (Season 4)

6. Tammye (Season 2)

5. Kevin (Season 5)

4. Leo (Season 2)

3. Jess (Season 3)

2. AJ (Season 1)

1. Neal (Season 1)

I have a lot of feelings about movies and TV shows that would be embarrassing if it weren’t 2020.

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