Four Seasons in to the American reboot of Queer Eye and the Fab Five have reached out not only to a different country, but a different continent. They’re in Japan! Same context – our five wonderful guys go to help individuals to improve their lives.
The show changes in some aspects as the group have to adapt to the new culture. The Five have both a guide and an interpreter, while the show gives these roles the respect they deserve. At the end of the first episode a special insight to the filming shows the crew telling the audience about the interpreter, Lena, and make obvious their appreciation that her help made the show possible. The group also make a real effort to understand and respect the Japanese culture: asking if they should take their shoes off, the proper ways of address, and whether or not the physical affection (lots of hugs) that the Fab Five are famous for will be welcome.
They also address some problems in Japanese culture; two notable issues are the treatment of gay people and the expectation on women to have a certain style. One woman Koko has said that she has “given up on being a woman”. During a conversation with Tan France, Koko and their guide Kiko discuss the ideas that are behind this. Tan makes sure to let the women discuss this as he recognises his place as an English man makes it almost impossible to weigh in on it.
The Fab Five show their care for the people they want to help by listening to them, and making sure to cater the changes in their life to reflect who they are. For example, when Koko talks about her love of Audrey Hepburn (specifically the film Roman Holiday) the team do their best to help and bring that into her life. Karamo takes her around in a Vespa (an iconic scene from the film) and Jonathan even adjusts her hairstyle much to her utter joy.
At the end, she tells the group, “You’re overflowing with kindness”. That is the point of this show, not to just give someone a makeover but to show that they can be the person they want to be. Even at the moments that encounter difficult topics such as mourning, the show handles it with tact and care. The show is truly uplifting.
Image Credit: Library of Congress Life via Flickr