Bobby Berk and Tan France Interview: ‘Queer Eye’
“It takes a huge emotional toll on the five of us,” reveals design expert Bobby Berk, who with fashion expert Tan France hosts Netflix’s reboot of the original Bravo series, alongside culture and lifestyle expert Karamo Brown, food and wine expert Antoni Porowski and grooming expert Jonathan Van Ness, known collectively as the “Fab Five.”
“It’s not just our hero that is opening up their hearts and minds and lives to us, we are to them too,” Berk says. “I don’t think there’s many shows out there where the host of the show is sometimes getting a makeover themselves, emotionally. There’s been many times where our heroes have touched our lives just as much as we’ve touched theirs.” Watch our exclusive video interview with Berk and France above.
Like the original Bravo series, “Queer Eye” sees five experts in their chosen category meet up with a “hero” each week to offer them advice and guidance to help improve their lives. However, unlike the original, the Netflix reboot is more empathetic, where the experts aren’t judging the heroes, but are getting to know them and attempting to make a real, lasting difference to their lives. Embracing change, authenticity, self-acceptance and self-worth are the themes and values that are central to the show, a lot of which can be attributed to the personal style that each expert brings to the genuine interactions they have with each subject. Both Berk and France insist that those interactions are not staged, rehearsed or manufactured, but stem from hours of footage in which the experts get to know the heroes, have open and sometimes emotional conversations and then provide positive and constructive feedback, rather than point out what is ‘wrong’ with them.
Looking back at the pilot episode, Berk recalls that it quickly became apparent that this was the best approach for “Queer Eye” this time around. “The five of us just started finding everything we could that was positive about [the hero], everything that we knew that we saw that he didn’t see about himself and we instantly saw this man’s whole demeanor start to change and starting to stand a little taller because we realized that no one had ever built him up like this his entire life and subconsciously we were all instantly like, ‘this is what we’re here for, this is the show we’re making, we’re meant to be building people up,’ and from that moment that was what we were going to do.”
“We really wanted to make an uplifting show,” France agrees. “It just wouldn’t have been right, especially in this day and age, to tear people apart. There’s so much that goes on in the media that is so negative, it’s nice to have something positive and uplifting.”
“After three episodes, the producers said ‘we want you to go bold and wild and think of a bright pink suit,’ and I was like ‘I am not your guy then, I’m definitely not your guy,'” France reveals. “Thankfully all of us are very strong willed,” he adds. “We don’t back down easy. So, if we are not willing to do something that someone wants us to do, we’ll say it.”