One Queer Eye Producer Reflects on the Show's Legacy: "It Was a Bold, Provocative Statement"

Christian Barcellos opens up about the time he spent hanging out with the O.G. Fab Five.

This July marks 15 years since we first met the Fab Five on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a group that wanted nothing more than to pop into unsuspecting guys' lives and make them over — from top to bottom. The beloved series took the concept of the makeover show and turned it on its head by not only changing its subjects' looks, but also their very core for the better.

The show's resident fashion guru, Carson Kressley, previously told The Daily Dish he really only had one goal in mind when he joined the series. "I was just trying to get people out of pleated khakis, quite frankly," the fashion stylist shared in 2017 (more in the video above). "I think that's why it worked so well because we didn't have flags and signs, we weren't being controversial in any way — we were just doing our job and helping the straight guy get the look or get the girl or get the job and being experts in our fields and we were just being our real selves."

Well whatever the motivation was that Carson and his comrades in makeover (Ted Allen (food), Kyan Douglas (grooming), Thom Filicia (home design) and Jai Rodriguez (pop culture)) had, in the end, the show and its experts always aimed to "be great guides to guys who got stuck in a rut … [there was a] warm, heartfelt motivation behind it all," Christian Barcellos, currently

the SVP Development and Production at CNBC, who was the Director of Production on the series, explained to The Daily Dish recently. Christian revealed a few more secrets from his time on Queer Eye, which you can check out below. (And if you're feeling nostalgic, make sure you tune into the Queer Eye for the Straight Guy marathon and catch retro episodes of the series this Sunday, April 15 beginning bright and early at 6am ET-2pm ET on Bravo.)

1.  How Fab!

 

The Fab Five take on the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. PHOTO: Getty

"There were different cast changes," he said. "There was a series of casting that took place. We were looking for people who had credibility in the marketplace — real jobs and that also [had] good personalities and that meshed with the ensemble."

And while the pieces of the Fab Five puzzle were slowly falling into place, the role of the pop culture guru was a little harder. Christian called that role "amorphous" but once Jai was there, it just worked. "And so it clicked. It was kismet and it all worked and that became the Fab Five and Jai was really the last link in the chain."

2.  Speaking Of Which...

This is how that now-famous moniker came to exist: "That was all thought of by David Collins and David Metzler, the original creators and show runner. That was pretty much baked into the concept from back in the [pitch] of the project."

3.  Go Bold or Go Home

The fellas at the 55th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards in 2003. PHOTO: Wireimage

Given that Bravo was making the transition to a more pop culture-minded network from a "niche arts network" at the time of the show's launch, Christian said, "It was a bold provocative statement right in the title." The hope was that a statement like that could help to expand "the viewership base, trying to widen the tent so in some ways. We were gonna super serve an audience Bravo already had, but would it would it be embraced by the rest of the country? Which was one of the big questions."

4.  When Their Forces Combine

Also in 2003, at the OUT Magazine 100 List New York Party. PHOTO: Filmmagic

"We were also very committed to the fact that the title was going to be the provocation of the show," he explained. "Within the actual DNA of the show, the queer factor was simply their superpower. It was the thing that gave them the ability to see these things: the ability to dress, to decorate, to cook, that straight men were blinded to for some reason. And it was really to help these straight men to bridge the divide. We weren’t out there to change anybody’s opinion and they were there to help. There was no militancy about the 'queer' view. It was just simply a fact of life and because it was treated within a very organic, not belligerent way, I think it was embraced; it wasn’t a scary proposition to a mass audience. Everybody understood the point of identifying superpower." 

5.  Home Invasion Tour

The group hanging at the VH1's Big In 2003 Awards. PHOTO: Getty

"The show was designed to be this full frontal assault," Christian said, noting the moment when the Fab Five barged into their subjects' lives remains a high point for him. "We had a lot of stuff that didn’t end up on camera where they’d find intimately hidden items. And we're like, 'You didn’t think to like clean up before the cameras showed up?' So it was always this crazy [moment] — it was one of my favorite parts of the show was that sort of home invasion component. And I think it gave a life," he said. He noted that it was those moments that changed the pacing for what is considered reality TV. "It gave an energy. It really was the shot that kind of kicked it off."

6.  Unites States of Queer Eye

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Christan noted that when President George W. Bush referenced the show, that was "just an example where I knew that we had changed the perception of the LGBT community, [and] really made a cultural impact." He added, "These were the last guys in the world that should be referencing it and there was something so universally understood, benign, and common about this comment. Like everybody gets it and who wouldn’t want to have the Fab Five crash their lives and make it over? So that was significant to me, that was the revelatory moment."

7.  Queer Eye for the ... Anyone!

More vintage Fab Five: At a pre-Emmy Awards event. PHOTO: Wireimage

The series eventually dropped half of its title and even did makeovers on other candidates. "After you do 100 episodes, we were able to sort of loosen the term — even dropping the for For the Straight Guy. It was anybody who had gotten stuck in a rut and we found that there was a more universal truth. So it was interesting when we expanded the scope, how there was commonality of human experience [of] people just trapped in a routine that sometimes is either self- destructive or unfulfilling. It was fun to be able to play with that." 

8.  They're Back! (Sort Of)

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This year not only marks a landmark anniversary for the series; the show was also rebooted on Netflix. When Carson appeared on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen earlier this year, he shared some advice that he gave the crew, which you can check out in the video above. 

And this is how Christian feels about putting a new spin on the series. "It’s hard to go back. I have such fond memories. To see somebody else kind of do your show again, admittedly, it's David Collins, the original creator, so kudos to him. But I have my fond memories of the original so its surprisingly been more difficult to go back and watch then new version," Christian said. "The bit that I saw, the guys seem like they’re really good. I understand the show is very popular. They definitely lean more into the red state-blue state clash and there’s a certain earnestness about it that feels very right for this period of time. But I loved our show because it was so effing funny."

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