N.B. Contains potential season 5 spoilers.

I’ve just spent the past few days binging all ten episodes of the upcoming fifth season of Queer Eye, which lands on Netflix right on time for Pride month on June 5th, and I am feeling pretty amazing actually; upbeat and optimistic. It’s the kind of afterglow you get when you’ve had a weekend away with your kindest, wisest queer friends, who build up your confidence, give you good advice and who you share some good food and plenty of warm hugs with. Quite an achievement for a reality makeover show in the midst of a pandemic, and just the queer tonic for the soul we all need in our lives right now. Feel-good TV never felt so good.
Queer Eye: Season 5. Courtesy of Netflix.
Shot last summer, this season sees the Fab Five, Antoni Porowski (Food & Wine), Bobby Berk (Interior Design), Jonathan Van Ness (Grooming), Karamo Brown (Culture) and Tan France (Fashion) bring some queer magic to the City of Brotherly Love. Somehow they manage to spend an entire season in the nation’s birthplace without running up the “Rocky Steps” in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. I can’t go more than a few hours in the city without heading there to do a slow mo run and celebratory fist pumping spin at the top. I guess it just goes to show that the Queer Eye producers have a little more imagination! In fact, as well ten gratifying transformation stories, the season is also a love letter to the city and an unconventional travel guide, introducing us to various Philly neighbourhoods and showcasing some great local businesses (as well as a few chain stores) along the way. And fittingly, Philadelphia born and raised queer pop star Vincint has recorded a new song for the season that’s used in the trailer. 
Queer Eye: Season 5, episode 1. Courtesy of Netflix.
The satisfying framework of the reliably entertaining show remains unchanged; the Fab Five spend a week a “hero”, nominated by their friends, family or colleagues, and transform them by teaching some self-love, reconnecting with them with the person they were always meant to be, (it’s essentially the message Dorothy learns in The Wizard of Oz, that she had the power all along). It’s a narrative structure that allows for some episodes to go deep, as evidenced by the powerful season opener where we meet Noah Helper, a pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Atonement in Fishtown. He’s single, and lives with his two cats in the dilapidated parsonage, with holes in the ceiling. He also happens to be gay and out, but not exactly proud. Feeling guilty for not having stood up for the LGBTQ community sooner, he was previously married to a woman and having come out later in life he’s clearly dealing with some internalised homophobia. Understandable given that he grew up in a “homophobic Baptist denomination” as he describes it, where he was taught that “queer people were wrong and probably going to hell.”
About to celebrate its 125th birthday, Noah’s church puts Jonathan in mind of the Sister Act movies, and he jokes during the grooming session with him that he feels like The Preacher’s Wife. But for Bobby these are far more uncomfortable surroundings having grown up in a church that preached hatred against LGBTQ people; “judgement, hurt and pain” is what the church means to him he says, but he wants to overcome those feelings in order to help Noah create a space that will be welcoming for all parishioners. Unlike the church of his youth, Noah wants his place of worship to be the one place where LGBTQ know for certain they will be accepted for who they are. During one of the standout scenes of the season Bobby and Noah discuss how faith has often been used against LGBTQ people, something that Noah feels churches needs to acknowledge if they are going to move forward and fill their pews; “the church owes you an apology” he tells Bobby. Noah also shares a fascinating Biblical story about Jesus healing a Centurion’s beloved, essentially his boyfriend; not one I heard in Sunday school. Meanwhile Karamo facilitates a deeply moving meeting between LGBTQ Lutherian clergy; activist Megan Rohrer, the first openly trans minister to be ordained by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and Guy Erwin, the first openly gay bishop to be ordained by ELCA, who are both further along the road of self-acceptance than Noah and offer their support. “Go in peace and be fabulous for the Lord” Noah ends his sermon, having shared his personal journey with his congregation publicly for the first time; the impact of spending a week with Fab Five clearly apparent.