Can "Queer Eye" survive a shake-up? Here's where each of the Fab Five stand after toxic allegations

Queer Eye Ilana Panich-Linsman/Netflix
Queer Eye Ilana Panich-Linsman/Netflix
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Watching "Queer Eye" has always felt like a warm hug or a toasty blanket wrapped around you. Bobby Berk would fix a hero's home while Karamo Brown would makeover their heart and Tan France elevate their fashion.

But for years, there have been rumblings that the Emmy-winning Fab Five were feuding. Then interior designer and home renovator, Berk, arguably the most important member of the group, announced his departure after the show's most recent eighth season late last year. Berk's unexpected departure ignited further rumors and theories about the alleged hostile relationship between Berk, the show and his castmates.

A new exposé from Rolling Stone alleges long-standing tension within the group that led to Berk's departure and  apparent "rage issues" with star Jonathan Van Ness, the show's grooming and hair specialist and arguably the most popular member of "Queer Eye." The article alleges that the happy portrayal of the Fab Five was a facade and that petty disputes and competition over who was the show's biggest star began to make its way to the public. Ultimately, the hostile and abusive workplace environment allegedly created by Van Ness was what led Berk to depart the series.

The show's feel-good success banks on the audience buying that the Fab Five are all friends and therefore able to convey their warm and uplifting values to the heroes featured. Plus, given the environment outlined in the article, it's possible that Berk's departure may not be the last. Can "Queer Eye" continue as-is or are all these signs of the beginning of the end? Can each member survive outside the Fab Five?

Here's a look at what the Rolling Stone piece highlighted about each Fab Five member what side gigs they have:

Karamo Brown

Brown, who spends most of the series trying to emotionally connect to the featured hero – aka the person getting their life revamped – was the least mentioned member of the group in the article. He seems to be supportive of Berk, commenting on his Instagram, “We are #ForeverTheFab5 no matter what. I’m about to be at Netflix’s door & e-mails telling them you can’t leave! Who is coming with me? I love you!"

Outside of "Queer Eye," the article mentioned that Brown's syndicated talk show, "Karamo Show," garners about 600,000 viewers and its YouTube channel is mildly successful with episodes that range between 150,000-500,000 views on average. He has other ventures like his small skincare brand MANTL, which has fewer than 10,000 followers on Instagram.

Bobby Berk

At the center of all the rumors is the interior designer expert Berk. Often he has the least amount of screen time in each episode because of the amount of work it takes to design and remodel each person's space, and therefore much of that takes place offscreen. But he always seemed happy to be there — even though it was a running joke that he disappeared halfway through each episode. However, this illusion ended when Berk abruptly left the show last year.

When his departure was announced, it was presented as his decision. He said in a heartfelt statement on Instagram, "It’s with a heavy heart that I announce that season 8 will be my final season on 'Queer Eye.' It’s not been an easy decision to be at peace with, but a necessary one. Although my journey with 'Queer Eye' is over, my journey with you is not. You will be seeing more of me very soon."

However, according to undisclosed sources, Berk was "blindsided" with how things worked out. Sources told Rolling Stone that after seven seasons, "Berk was friendly and professional, he seemed to be checked out." So the Fab Five's most recent season in New Orleans felt like the perfect time to close out his run on the series. Berk also believed that it would be the end of the road for the show. He recently told Vanity Fair that the cast filmed season eight as a send-off. “We thought we were done,” he said. “Mentally and emotionally, I thought we all moved on. I know I did, and I started planning other things.”

According to Berk because of the SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes last summer, Netflix needed more original programming and renewed "Queer Eye" in the fall. And their new contracts would extend another four seasons, but Berk declined.

Berk said, "All the plans that I had made when I thought we weren’t coming back, I just wasn’t willing to change those. I would have had to pump the brakes on multiple other projects that are already in process. We had mentally just prepared ourselves to move on — that’s why I left.”

Also, he thought that the other members of the group were also on the fence about not returning and all five would have to agree to continue. However, the other members of the group changed their minds and renewed their contracts, leaving Berk shut out and alone. “There were definitely emotions,” Berk said. “But each one of us had our reasons why we did what we did. I can’t be mad — for a second I was.”

Post-"Queer Eye," Berk has released an interior design and mental wellness book and even talked to Salon about it.

Tan France

The British stylist who transforms each hero's wardrobe was said to be involved in the rumors of splintering in the group. Berk and France were allegedly butting heads while filming the eighth season, which led to the pair unfollowing each other on social media.

While France has not addressed the incident, Berk said in his Vanity Fair interview that “Tan and I had a moment,” he explained. “There was a situation, and that’s between Tan and I, and it has nothing to do with the show.

“Should I have unfollowed Tan? No,” Berk continued. “Maybe I should have just muted him. But that day, I was angry, and that’s the end of it. We became like siblings — and siblings are always going to fight."

Moreover, the Rolling Stone article stated that Antoni Porowski and France, who are closest friends in the group, plotted and campaigned to replace Berk with interior designer and friend Jeremiah Brent for Season 9 of the show. Sources called it “mean-girl antics.”

Outside of "Queer Eye," France recently manned the red carpet for Netflix's live SAG Awards telecast and has a fashion competition show with co-host and model Gigi Hadid called "Next in Fashion" on Netflix. The article said the show has stalled after two seasons on the streaming platform but France has recently launched his own production company.

Antoni Porowski

The chef and restaurateur spends "Queer Eye" episodes usually helping the hero to create balanced and flavorful meals. Alongside Brown, Porowski was also barely mentioned in the article besides his alleged aiding in campaigning to help Brent replace Berk after his departure.

Moreover, Porowski, who co-owns a pet supply company with Van Ness also recently announced a new docuseries with National Geographic. In 2022, he hosted the "Easy Bake Battle" cooking competition on Netflix and has appeared in a number of TV shows and movies, usually as himself. He also saw his co-owned restaurant in New York City before it went out of business in 2021 after only three years.

Jonathan Van Ness

Van Ness is easily the biggest personality in the group and they are also the one facing the harshest allegations. The standout star with long flowy hair and shiny personality drew in viewers. However, behind the scenes, it was allegedly a different tone and "a contrast between the principles and the values that Jonathan stands for publicly." Production sources in the Rolling Stone article claimed Van Ness' emotionally "abusive" and "rage issues" made filming the show difficult.

Apparently, Van Ness' rising popularity exacerbated their bad behavior, with sources describing them as a “monster,” “nightmare” and “demeaning." The exposé detailed that the star would lash out at crew members and people who worked closely with Van Ness.

One source who worked with Van Ness said “[There’s] a real emotion of fear around them when they get angry. It’s almost like a cartoon where it oozes out of them. It’s intense and scary.” They estimated that during filming, Van Ness would have an outburst at least once a week. “He was a yeller,” they said.

The alleged behavior caused a tense environment on set which resulted in splintering the Fab Five. Two sources said that it led to members of the group including Berk being apprehensive to shoot scenes with Van Ness.

“There was absolutely tension between everybody else, especially from Jonathan Van Ness,” said a production member. “He didn’t want to ever share the spotlight with anyone. There were times when we couldn’t even shoot scenes with certain members of the Fab Five together because it got so bad.”

According to the article, Netflix executives had one meeting with Van Ness over their behavior and treatment of the crew. However, the meeting did nothing to change the workplace environment, sources said.

“The apparatus of [the show’s production company] ITV and Netflix promotes Jonathan and actively rewards them for their bad behavior,” a source said. “There’s no accountability at all,” another person who has worked with Van Ness said. Netflix and Van Ness declined to comment on the allegations.

And for Van Ness, outside of "Queer Eye," their popular podcast "Getting Curious" which was adapted to a docuseries on Netflix has stalled after its first season. Also, Van Ness' haircare line JVN Hair's main backer went bankrupt with the brand being sold for $1.25 million.