The Fab Five are back again with their message of self-care and compassion but now they’re in Tokyo spreading their healing juju. The Queer Eye series has come a long way since its first iteration in 2003 with Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. From spreading the knowledge that straight guys can care about their looks and health without being labeled feminine or metrosexual, Queer Eye, first premiering in 2018, became a self-help reality show for people from all walks of life, not just heterosexual men. Now, after over 40 episodes, the Fab Five are bringing their self-help abroad to the men and women of Japan in Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!
This new mini-series only has four episodes but that doesn’t make this season any less meaningful. The Fab Five pick four people, two women and two men, to help while they’re in Japan: a woman who has given up on her looks because she doesn’t engender the thin, hour-glass image expected of Japanese women and who also thinks older women aren’t allowed to stand out; a gay man hindered by his anxiety because Japan socially still has some harsh stigmas about gay/queer people; a manga illustrator with childhood anxieties that have followed her into adulthood and these insecurities are impacting her career success; a radio director who is talented but too shy, so much so that he is emotionally removed from his relationship with his wife.
Each of these people seems to be some sort of outcast based on their social or gender identity and who often has been bullied in the past. I think they picked these people well; they all are very kind and willing to listen to advice but, most importantly, many of their problems are those that can resonate with people from all walks of life and cultures.
Given that the Fab Five hail from America and Britain, I was a little apprehensive about how this mini-series would go. Understandably, the Fab Five have some very western-centric viewpoints on how individuals should care for themselves. As such, I definitely had concerns about if we’d see the Fab Five forcing their culturally influenced ideas of personal enhancement on people from a very different cultural and societal background. Although some of this did go on, it was by far drowned out by the sincere message of compassion they brought to the table and their honest want to better and empower these men and women.
I adored the fact that the Fab Five were so concerned about being respectful, and wanted to learn more about Japanese culture. They were also smart to include Kiko Mizuhara, a model, actress, singer, and designer, in the show. Kiko helps the Fab Five not only adhere to cultural standards of respect but also helps them keep in mind a Japanese perspective due to some very obvious differences in culture. As the series progresses, we see the Fab Five trying their hardest to learn more about Japanese culture and language, which is very endearing.
At the same time that they’re working on helping people, the Fab Five get to explore Tokyo and are exposed to the culture, food, and language of Japan. In small segments throughout the show, the Fab Five, with help from a Japanese person, explain a bit more about certain aspects of Japanese culture, such as the multitude of reasons Japanese people wear medical masks. Not only do we learn more about self-help but we get some insight into Japanese culture as well.
Although in a very different country, the mini-series followed the same formula from past shows and episodes. For this reason, I found that Queer Eye became quite redundant after about the tenth episode. However, since Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! is only four episodes long, there aren’t enough episodes for the show to become boring.
Obviously, not all of the people they helped were fluent in English and the Fab Five were certainly not fluent in Japanese. So, there was an obvious use of translators and interpreters. But by completely cutting out the time and footage of the interpreters doing their job, it made the episodes much smoother but also more personal. The transitions ensure that the Fab Five aren’t talking to an interpreter but are talking directly to the people they’re trying to help.
If you liked past seasons of Queer Eye, you’ll love Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!. The Fab Five are their silly and enthusiastic selves all the while being sure to listen to the concerns of the people they’re helping and bringing out the best in them. As in the past, the Fab Five preach self-care and celebrating connectedness, which resonate with viewers from all around the world. It’s a tried and true formula that has kept this series alive over so many episodes.
On top of this, it is always amazing to see the Fab Five be unapologetically themselves and celebrate their queerness. As a queer person, seeing these people celebrate their uniqueness is so helpful for my own self-acceptance, and I’m sure other queer people would agree.
Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! is streaming now on Netflix.
Queer Eye: We're in Japan!
If you liked past seasons of Queer Eye, you’ll love Queer Eye: We’re in Japan!. The Fab Five are their silly and enthusiastic selves all the while being sure to listen to the concerns of the people they’re helping and bringing out the best in them.