The Queer Eye reboot is the gift that keeps on giving. Returning to our screens this week for it’s fifth season, its clear that the groundbreaking show hasn’t lost it’s touch. It’s special ingredient; the Fab Five. A loud, proud and caring group of men (and non-binary Jonathan) whose mission is to uplift people through love, humour and teaching. But behind all the noise stands one steady pillar, without whom the show could not be possible. Bobby Berk, we salute you.
“All members of the fab five are equal, but some members are more equal than others”
George Orwell said that, right??
For those who don’t know, the Fab Five each have specific specialties which they inhibit when helping their ‘hero’ of the week. Tan is the fashion expert, Antoni owns food and wine, Jonathan is the grooming guide and Karamo is the culture king. While all of these duties might seem like a fair delegation of a weeks worth of work. Bobby’s job is the design expert; which means that he literally transforms someone’s entire house and sometimes their backyard too. In a week!
In interviews, the fab five have taken exception to the claim that Bobby has more of a workload than anyone else, but when Karamo’s contribution to the episode is to take a hero ziplining, its hard to take them all that seriously.
In the interest of fairness, its important to note that Bobby is the only member of the Fab Five who is privy to information regarding the hero before the week starts. Because its probably impossible to expect him to redesign a house without having seen it first. He is also the only member of the group to have his own team. Surprise. One man can’t renovate a whole house by himself.
Unfortunately, because Bobby is so busy during the show, we don’t get to see him as much as we do the rest of the cast. While the rest of the five regularly pop-up in each others segments, Bobby’s lucky if he has time to take the hero to a furniture store. He almost never pops in to Tans shopping trips or Jonathan’s salon time.
Tan: here's a vest
Jvn: let's do your brows
Antoni: grapes! Yum!
Bobby: sorry I wasn't in the show much I redesigned your house, moved your parents to the Galapagos, and sold your old shit and here's the profit
— THATbirdDID || FDJT (@THATbirdDID) June 11, 2020
Because of this, he is probably the least known of the group. Despite having some of the most emotive story lines and personal growth. He has the least amount of followers on Twitter and Instagram, and doesn’t seem to capture the cult-like adoration that someone Like Antoni or Jonathan has.
Which is wild to me, because his story is perhaps the most haunting of the Fab Five.
Viewers of the show will know that Bobby has been struggling with the demons of his past for a long, long time. Adopted into a devout christian family in the midwest, Berk was taught to hate homosexuality, and grew up hating himself.
“Gay people were bad, they were pedophiles, they were evil,” Berk said. “So I spent every prayer meeting on every Sunday crying and begging God to not make me gay.”
He ended up leaving home at the tender age of 15, after which he became homeless for a bit. He was forced to drop out of school and work a number of odd jobs to get by.
“It just wasn’t an option to be able to eat and pay rent and [go to class],”
Bobby’s past is a rags to riches story that personifies the heart of the show. Whilst dealing with such adversity, Berk was able to persevere with the same wholesome attitude that he sports today.
That’s not to say that he isn’t still dealing with trauma though. And because the Queer Eye producers love an emotional breakthrough, he is forced to confront his scars time and time again. When Bobby first confronted a church early in season 2, his pain in visceral. In fact, at the start of the episode, he wouldn’t even step inside the building.
“I told myself I’d never go back into a church. I was so hurt”
However, since that episode, Bobby has not only stepped foot inside a church, he has even renovated a couple. By speaking his truth, he has become a channel for the LGBTQ+ heroes on the show (and the viewers), to grow and let go.
In season five, while helping an openly gay pastor, Bobby even admitted that he could see himself sending his children to church if they were as accepting as the one he has just redesigned.
Bobby offers a lot by being so open about his traumas with the church, but sharing his past struggles with homelessness has also been an incredibly powerful tool in helping the Queer Eye heroes. Many of whom have fallen on tough times.
If you’re still doubting whether or not Bobby is the strongest member of the fab five, watch episode four in the newest season. Not only does Bobby redesign an entire house (he moves an entire kitchen into a new room). But, he also takes a personal interest in hero Tyreek as he has just overcome homelessness.
Bobby works overtime in this episode to make sure Tyreek has the tools to succeed. From setting up a meeting with a financial planner to going above and beyond in decorating the place so Tyreek knows it is distinctly his.
Meanwhile, Jonathan sources a specialist to fix Tyreek’s dreadlocks. And while this is certainly the right move on Jonathan’s behalf, the difference in workload is clear.
Bobby goes above and beyond in every episode and it’s about time he gets the recognition he deserves. Without him, Queer Eye would be missing so much of the magic that makes it special. Today, we recognise Bobby Berk. The most underrated member of the Fab Five, and the most important.
Subscribe to FIB’s Weekly Alchemy Report for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!